Microsoft delivers Office for rival Apple's iPad (Update)

Mar 27, 2014 by Glenn Chapman
Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, speaks at a media event in San Francisco, California on March 27, 2014

Microsoft unveiled a version of its popular Office software suite for iPad tablets Thursday as the company's new chief moved to expand its "Internet cloud" footprint.

Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella laid out a vision of making the company the master of programs and services offered in the cloud for whatever gadgets people prefer.

The US technology titan underscored that goal with the release of Office software tailored for iPads made by longtime rival Apple.

"Today is the first step on a journey to make this a great innovation vector for all of Microsoft," Nadella said in his first press briefing since taking the helm of the company.

"We are committed to making our applications run cross-platform."

The news comes with Microsoft's Surface having only limited impact in the fast-growing tablet market led by Apple and its iPad.

Nadella said he wants to provide full-feature versions of its widely used programs available for all types of devices as one aspect of Microsoft's overall strategy under his watch.

He was adamant that the company is committed to Windows operating systems for powering computers and promised more along those lines would be revealed at Microsoft's "build" conference for developers next week in San Francisco.

"There is no trade-off," Nadella said of offering programs and cloud services for devices that compete with Windows-powered smartphones, tablets or computers.

"It is about being able to excel where ever our customers are."

Word, Excel, and PowerPoint programs in the Office software suite can be downloaded free from Apple's online App Store and used to view data or documents and make presentations.

In a spin on the "freemium" model common in the world of mobile applications, paid subscriptions to Microsoft's cloud-based Office 365 service are needed to create or edit documents using Office on iPad.

'Built for iPad experience'

Microsoft sought to emphasize that the software was created with the iPad in mind.

"This is definitely not the Windows application ported to iPad," Microsoft general manager Julia White said while demonstrating on an iPad during a briefing in San Francisco.

"This is uniquely built for the iPad touch experience."

Presentations, spreadsheets or documents created are saved on Microsoft servers using its OneDrive online data storage service and can be access from a range of devices.

More than a billion people use Office, according to the Redmund, Washington-based technology titan.

Microsoft also introduced an Enterprise Mobility Suite designed to help businesses keep company information safe while managing arrays of smartphones, tablets and laptops that employees use while working.

Nadella said that he was intent on putting Microsoft's software in the position of underpinning Internet lifestyles no matter what devices come into vogue.

"The world in the next five to 10 years will not be defined by the form factors we know and love today," Nadella said.

"New form factors will be birthed at a rapid pace, and everything we do will be digitized."

As screens, sensors, and chip-infused devices weave ever deeper into lifestyles, Microsoft can play to its software strengths in areas such as machine learning, cloud services, and data security, according to Nadella.

Nadella replaced Steve Ballmer as Microsoft chief executive in February, and the market is keen to learn his plans to keep the company relevant in a world rapidly shifting from personal computers to mobile devices.

"It's been 52 days for me, but who's counting?" Nadella quipped at the briefing.

"Perhaps the most striking thing for me is that despite having spent most of my adult life at Microsoft you see things from a very fresh set of eyes."

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