One of the questions we get asked most often is about how to use Microsoft Word and Excel on tablets and smartphones. And while we love using iPads and other tablets to work whenever and wherever, but until now there hasn’t been a great native solution for those devices. Instead we’ve been using Android and iOS apps to try to recreate the laptop or desktop experience.
But starting today, Microsoft has partnered with AT&T to create a cloud-based Office Suite, so you can have Microsoft Office on all your devices. They’re calling it Office365, and the idea is that the cloud can provide everything you need to be productive on any device. Using the cloud actually enables lots of professional-level IT tools beyond just the Office Suite, which we’ll talk about later this week, but for now we’ll just concentrate on getting you up to speed on the Office Web Apps mobile stuff.
In the past, you bought the MS Office Suite, plus a licensing key, one time upfront. Office365 is different, and you access the programs via a monthly subscription plan. It’s good for businesses, who can quickly scale up or down depending on how many people in the office need Office at any given moment. Without any of the other Office365 features, just accessing Office Web Apps will cost $10 a month.
So how does it work? Basically, Microsoft has recreated the program experience as an app. AT&T is there to take care of the online cloud component, taking care of deliverability. And because it’s all online, it’s actually easier to collaborate and share documents, across all the Web Apps and users. So what’s included as a Web App? Excel, Word, PowerPoint and OneNote. If you haven’t tried OneNote, you may want Web Apps just for that! It’s basically a free-form document you can use to record anything: notes, pictures, general idea, whatever. It’s good for sharing and brainstorming, and you can share images, audio, and more with other users to work together.
There’s more to Office365 than just Web Apps; Office365 is a complete package designed to deliver the feeling (and productivity) of being at your desk – we’ll talk more their new exchange email and videoconferencing later this week. For now, you can go to the AT&T website to see if Web Apps might make sense for your business; if you’re using a tablet for work at all, it’s definitely worth checking out.