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6/17/2014
07:13 AM
Michael Endler
Michael Endler
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Microsoft Office For iPad Vs. iWork Vs. Google

Microsoft's Office for iPad wins praise from productivity software users, but is it right for you? We compare the free alternatives from Apple and Google.
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If you're a work-minded iPad user, Microsoft Office, Google Sheets, Google Docs, and Apple iWork are the most widely used productivity software options. But which one is the best fit for you?

More than a year before Microsoft released Office for iPad, many critics had already dismissed the apps, then still purely theoretical, as late to the party. Fast forward to today. Microsoft's iPad suite has earned better reviews than almost anyone expected, especially after the company's rudimentary Office Mobile app for smartphones. Users downloaded Office for iPad 12 million times in its first week, and more than 27 million in its first month and a half.

The numbers are impressive, but it's unclear how much they've helped Microsoft's bottom line. Office iPad apps are free, but to create and edit documents users need an Office 365 subscription. Are those downloads actually translating into paying customers? Microsoft hasn't said, partly because it offers a 30-day trial to new Office for iPad users, which muddies download-to-subscriber conversion rates.

Still, it's safe to say Office for iPad hasn't hurt Office 365's momentum. Office 365 Home Premium subscriptions totaled 3.5 million earlier this year but have since jumped to more than 4.4 million. Microsoft has not disclosed figures for either Office 365 Personal, perceived by many as its most iPad-centric plan, nor various student-oriented options -- but with Home Premium evidently rolling along since Office for iPad debuted, it's likely the others have seen a boost too.

Does all that mean Office is your best bet for iPad productivity? Not necessarily. It's important to remember why critics were skeptical of Office for iPad before it had even been announced. At the time, analysts pointed out that iPad users had spent several years becoming acquainted with Office alternatives -- and with the idea that they needn't pay for Office when free products could do the job. Given this context, it seemed Microsoft's window to capitalize on the iPad's success had largely closed.

These concerns no longer seem so urgent -- but for individual users, the logic is still valid. Apple's iWork suite is free with every new iOS device, and Google's productivity apps are free, period. Office deserves its praise -- but does it deserve your money? That depends.

Office is ubiquitous among PC users, which gives the iPad version certain advantages -- namely, a familiar UI that requires little retraining, and the assurance that document formatting will look the way it's supposed to. But if you don't need to collaborate with Office users, or if your collaborations involve simply formatted documents, you might find iWork or Google Drive more attractive.

There are other considerations. Do you spend more time creating presentations or working with spreadsheets? Is word processing your priority? Do you want to use templates to keep things simple? Do you want to use your iPad to edit and review content, or to create it?

If that sounds overwhelming, don't worry. We've broken down the options. Explore our slideshow to learn the details. If you already have a favorite, or want to share advice, please join the discussion in the comments field.

Michael Endler joined InformationWeek as an associate editor in 2012. He previously worked in talent representation in the entertainment industry, as a freelance copywriter and photojournalist, and as a teacher. Michael earned a BA in English from Stanford University in 2005 ... View Full Bio

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wolofterrain
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wolofterrain,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/22/2014 | 9:49:12 AM
ipad charger
A portable ipad charger is the best charger that one can purchase. There are so many types of chargers for ipad, but the portable one is the perfect choice. You will be able to carry this charger with you and use it whenever your ipad runs out of battery. You do not have to miss capturing those special moments simply because the ipad is out of battery and it has been totally drained since you do not have access to a power socket. The portable ipad charger is, thus, a convenient and easy to use charger. The charger I am talking about will be fine here CHOETECH Amazon http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00HZF6UD4
Pal014
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Pal014,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/20/2014 | 9:09:38 AM
Re: Compatibility
In my opinion, OS environment is the tie-breaker. I use all Oses and on Android and Windows, I have more options for opening, editing and sharing documents than on IOS. On Android particularly, the back button is a productivity gain over others. Mobile apps have many limitations versus Windows or Mac apps. For true productivity, a laptop cannot be surpassed.
Henrisha
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Henrisha,
User Rank: Strategist
6/18/2014 | 6:19:35 AM
Re: Compatibility
That's part of the limitations of working on a mobile device. Of course you can't expect to have all the features of the desktop version of the software, but I think with time and with more tweaks, the experience they're giving users is pretty good already.
Stratustician
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Stratustician,
User Rank: Ninja
6/17/2014 | 2:41:13 PM
Re: Compatibility
As someone who works with just about every platform, one of my biggest issues is that I still view iOS as a consumption platform, rather than a device running Windows which makes it easier to actually create office documents.  The ability for users to create meaningful content on a device such as presentations, rich text documents, has definitely hindered iOS adoption from a tablet perspective, especially in environments which are standardized on Microsoft Office.
Gary_EL
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Gary_EL,
User Rank: Ninja
6/17/2014 | 2:08:24 PM
Re: Compatibility
Sooner or later, you'll run into a richly formatted Microsoft Word document that you won't be able to read properly, or read at all. Gaining access to it through other means will be such a schedule-buster that you might very well consider Office for iPad, whether you originally planned to or not.
Laurianne
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Laurianne,
User Rank: Author
6/17/2014 | 12:01:23 PM
Compatibility
What are your compatibility pet peeves with your current choices, readers?
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