Microsoft has launched an iPad version of its Office software, following the launch of an iPhone version last year.
Microsoft’s Office 365 Home Premium, designed for home consumers, costs $100 a year. For businesses it costs from $60 per year upwards, depending on features. Users will need an Office 365 subscription to create documents with the iPad app.
The products were revealed by new Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, and signals a more open and cross platform direction for the software giant in the future.
The move puts Office at the heart of the company’s push to become a leading services company across a variety of platforms – possibly at the expense of Windows and its own Surface tablet.
It has been long rumoured that an iPad-friendly version of Office – which encompasses such popular applications as Word, Excel and Powerpoint – had been ready for years, but the firm had been reluctant to compromise its signature PC operating system. Instead Micrsooft has favouried its own Surface line of tablets and a touch-friendly Windows 8 operating system.
At a news conference Thursday, executives demonstrated a new “touch-first” version of Office crafted for the iPad, available for download as a free app, though a subscription is needed to let users create or edit documents.
Research firm Gartner predicts about 271 million tablets will be shipped this year – only slightly less than its forecast of 277 million PCs and laptops – and Apple’s iPad is currently the bestselling model.
Office remains Microsoft’s cash cow, accounting for $16.2bn (£9.7bn) – or just over 60% – of Microsoft’s operating profit in its last financial year. But some believe that sum could have been larger.
Nadella’s willingness to break with the Windows tradition, which remains co-founder Bill Gates’ most enduring legacy, helped spur Microsoft shares to $40-plus levels not seen since the dotcom boom of 2000.