At a press conference on Thursday morning, Microsoft announced that Word, Excel, and PowerPoint would become available as iPad apps for the first time.
The apps will be available for free if you want to open and view documents, spreadsheets, and presentations. You will need a subscription to Microsoft’s Office 365 service if you want to create or edit.
Like Google’s Drive service, Microsoft can store and sync documents in the cloud, so that you can access the most up-to-date versions of the files on multiple devices. This means that if, say, you add a funny cat video to a PowerPoint presentation on your laptop, that cat video will show up in the presentation that’s on your tablet after you connect the iPad to the Internet.
The arrival of Microsoft Office for iPad had been the subject of much debate in the years leading up to this day. Under former CEO Steve Ballmer, Microsoft had refused to bring Office to Apple’s tablet, instead creating a mobile-friendly operating system (Windows 8) and its own line of tablets (the Surface) for business use. This release could be seen as an admission that those efforts came up short: The iPad remains dominant, and competing productivity services like Google Drive and Apple’s iWork have become more popular, as business workers increasingly rely on tablets and smartphones over laptops and PCs.