If you never thought you'd see MS Office running properly on an iPad, you were wrong. Microsoft has announced updates to its Web Office apps, bringing bigger buttons and full touch functionality to Apple's iPad and upcoming Windows 8 tablets.
Touch Typing is the Future
While some of us will always want a trusty keyboard for our fingers to play over, the huge take-up of tablets means developers have to cater for this growing new user base. Enter Microsoft who's latest Office blog post highlights, in quite some detail, the amount of effort it has put in to creating an easy-to-work-with and positive environment for doing office work on a tablet.
With Windows 8 launching soon, across a range of tablets and computers, Microsoft has aimed to get users up and running with touch-enabled Office Web Apps right away, without the need master a new user interface. We should also be able to move easily between touch and mouse/keyboard experiences, with all features available on all devices.
Pointing the Finger
Compatibility with the iPad, through Safari on iOS, has to be a must, given that Apple's tablet currently dominates the market, and the Mini iPad likely to increase that share. There is no word on Android compatibility, but that is likely in the works. Of course, Microsoft will hope that huge Windows 8 tablet sales will see it grab a hold of this market.
Office on tablets is now so real you can touch it
Some interesting features of the tablet-enabled apps include the usual range of touch motions to perform commands, tapping on a selection takes the place of a Windows PC right-click, to get access to cut and paste, and other functions. Tapping elsewhere will get rid of a menu, and it all looks pretty intuitive, with the overall aim to replicate the standard user experience in a way that would create no fear or confusion among users.
We still wait to see if there will be a full native iOS MS Office app, but that's likely only a matter of time given the amount of attention Microsoft is putting on the tablet space. But with this upgrade for the Web version, perhaps time is now on Microsoft's side to push its own Windows 8 and Windows RT versions.