It may have taken years to get to Apple’s App Store, but Microsoft’s new Office apps look to be having a fine debut.

The apps, which are part of Microsoft’s Office 365 productivity suite, currently hold the first through fourth spots in the most downloaded free apps charts as of Saturday afternoon. Microsoft Word is No. 1, while Excel, Powerpoint and OneNote round out slots two, three and four.

That’s a good sign for Microsoft, which has been working to bring the apps to Apple’s tablets for years now. Especially when competing apps like Quip, Evernote and Apple’s own office apps have been available on iPads for some time.

New Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella made the case that the new Office 365 is about working well across multiple devices — like the iPad as well as the desktop, or Microsoft’s own Surface tablet — while letting multiple people collaborate on items while saving the work to the cloud.

Another good sign for Microsoft: Its Word and Excel iPad apps also hold high positions in the “top grossing apps” category, which means that a significant number of people are already converting to paying customers after downloading the freemium version.

The in-app subscription upgrade gives users more Office features, like the important ability to create and edit documents in Word, for instance, while the free apps offer “read only” access to documents.

Users have a number of options for which premium version of Office they want, and can upgrade from within the app itself. The typical plan costs $99 per year for consumers.


Not to overstate the benefit, but even the $99 per year Office 365 kit is a fantastic bargain if you run multiple devices in your family.  Since its introduction last year, the 365 package includes management and upstates to full Office installations on up to five (5) desktops - in my case I've been using four on family Macs.  With this release, the subscription automatically includes up to five (5) tablet installations. Friday morning I put it on my wife's and my iPads. No additional charge, just needed to sign into my 365 subscription. 

Prior to 365 I had three Office installations on Macs, and managing them and their independent license keys (long!) was a constant challenge through OS and hardware updates. No more - new hardware"  Just sign in to the web portal, delete the old hardware's instance and add the new one. So 21st century!

History lesson for the young folk:  Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint were assembled (read "acquired and integrated") by Gates at the behest of Steve Jobs. The first editions of those applications were delivered in the late 1980s on 3.5" diskette for use on Apple's Macintosh. I have a set from the 1980s that I bought and used. At that time, all my "corporate" brethren were slugging it out with WordPerfect, Lotus 123 and Harvard Graphics on DOS. The revolution of desktop productivity started right there. Yesterday's announcement just brought Office full circle to the embrace the Age of the Cloud, and Apple's participation as the delivery platform is almost Cosmic in irony.


Just a note, that Microsoft will be adding a "personal" plan soon, for around ~70 bucks.  If you are a student, you can get 4 years for a total of 79 bucks.  Or, if your educational institution has Office already (specific plans only), students can often get Office for free. If your company has Office 365, then you can use these apps with that sign-in.   However the in-app purchasing through Apple only supports the 99 standard version.


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