AMITIAE - Sunday 16 February 2014
Cassandra: Office for the iPad Imminent - So What? (Amended)
By Graham K. Rogers
This morning, following a Tweet from Daring Fireball (John Gruber), I had a look at an item from Mary Jo Foley on the (she writes) imminent release of Windows for iOS. This appeared on ZDNET on Friday (14 Feb).
The major reaction here, from naysayers and others is likely to be a chorus of, "So what?" The first half of 2014 puts this four years behind iWork (see below) and this is not exactly "imminent". The delays and difficulties in bringing a supposedly core project like Office to the platform are indicative of Microsoft's problems in the last few years, when the major drive has not been innovation, but how to best monetize the cash cows.
When I used a Palm PDA some years back, that had a useful app from Dataviz in Documents to Go. When that became available for iOS, I downloaded it right away and with the desktop app, I can synchronise easily to the Mac.
It is also available for Android and Blackberry phones. Portable devices sync to the desktop, but not between devices. A cloud upgrade seems to allow this.
This creates and opens "Word (DOC & DOCX), Excel (XLS & XLSX), and PowerPoint (PPT & PPTX)" files on the iPad or - separately - the iPhone (Office2 for iPhone). There are also single apps that handle spreadsheets and presentation files. Access to files from another device needs a user to enter an IP number into a browser. Files are linked through port 8080 (e.g. 10.10.25.1:8080).
A search on the iTunes App Store will now reveal hundreds of apps that will allow such files to be created and opened.
I guess when everyone was running XP that might have been the case, but several of my students prefer to use Google for collaboration. I do, however, take exception to the idea that users must have Office for document integrity. My own experience here with my students, who work on several different versions of Windows and Office, shows me that this is no longer the case.
They work at home then bring the files to a printing service on campus, which promptly spoils their input, most often by adding or removing spaces to such an extent that there is difficulty reading the paper output. On the other hand, I work at home on my Mac, using Apple's TextEdit, save my work as RTF (Rich Text) or a PDF. When I bring the file to the department secretary, she prints it out for me using a PC (because the office Sanyo printer has no Mac drivers) and the output is exactly as I wanted it.
If and when this product, in whatever form it takes (perhaps paid cloud access), does arrive, many users will not see the need. Like the last couple of releases of Office for the Mac, my reaction is already filed: So what?
A tree will fall in the forest and no one will hear.
Graham K. Rogers teaches at the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University in Thailand where he is also Assistant Dean. He wrote in the Bangkok Post, Database supplement on IT subjects. For the last seven years of Database he wrote a column on Apple and Macs.
For further information, e-mail to