Thursday 10 September 2015

Microsoft demonstrates Office on iPad Pro, giving the world one less reason to buy a Surface

Apple always invites third-party developers to show off some of the most impressive new apps coming to its devices, but today it had something of a surprise guest: Microsoft. Apple brought Microsoft's Kirk Konigsbauer on stage to demonstrate how Office apps would work on the iPad Pro. For the most part, there's nothing unexpected here — Office for iPad is already a powerful and good looking suite of apps; now they're just optimized for the iPad Pro's larger screen. Office is also going to be supporting Apple's new stylus, the Apple Pencil.

Given Microsoft's newfound focus on providing apps and services across all platforms, the collaboration makes a lot of sense. Microsoft's goal is to make the best apps it can and to get as many people using them so that it can sell them some of its more specialized services. Office has long been the go-to suite of productivity tools, and — while they debuted on the iPad a bit late — Microsoft is still pushing for Office to take that role in the tablet world as well. So far there's no obvious winner in the tablet productivity world, and having a great choice will be important once the iPad Pro is released.
The demo also emphasizes just how much the iPad Pro will be going up against the Surface Pro. The iPad Pro offers a stylus and keyboard case, which makes it a competing, high-end laptop / tablet. With Office — one of the most important desktop apps — available on it, Microsoft is giving iOS users one less reason to move over to Windows. That may be fine by Microsoft's own strategy — services first, after all — but it certainly wouldn't mind selling more hardware.
Apple also brought Adobe up on stage to demonstrate a new app called Adobe Fix. Another company, 3D4Medical, also demonstrated a medical app.
Update September 9th, 7PM ET: Microsoft has gone on to detail the enhancements to Office for iPad on its blog. The updates focus on features that allow Office apps to take advantage of iOS 9's multitasking; support is also being added for the iPad Pro's stylus. The updates are arriving today, but you won't be able to use them until iOS 9 is released on September 16th.

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