Why Microsoft Office for the iPad just might make sense for your real estate business

Many brokerages, Realtors are invested in Microsoft’s ecosystem

Microsoft Office has finally arrived for the iPad. At a recent event in San Francisco, the veteran software developer announced that its flagship offering is now available in the App Store.

The Microsoft Office suite for iPad includes Word, Excel and PowerPoint. The newly rebranded OneDrive (formally SkyDrive) and OneNote are also available.

Cloud computing image via Shutterstock.
Cloud computing image via Shutterstock.

Although it took four years for Microsoft to release an iPad version of Office, the move marks a significant shift in the company’s philosophy.

Back in February, Microsoft named Satya Nadella its new CEO. Nadella has been with the company for 22 years and was previously the vice president of Microsoft’s Cloud and Enterprise division. The company is transitioning to a “mobile-first, cloud first” business model. Making Office available across multiple platforms is a huge pivot for Microsoft.

Is Microsoft still relevant?

For many of my colleagues and the real estate pros that I work with, Microsoft and Office are an afterthought. They have integrated Google Apps at their brokerages and have replaced PowerPoint with apps such as Keynote, Prezi and Haiku Deck. They incorporated a “mobile-first, cloud first” approach into their businesses years ago.

Keeping up with tech and all of the new-fangled products and services that pop up every day can be a daunting task. I recently read a New York Times article entitled, “How to Survive the Next Wave of Technology Extinction.” The premise of the piece: buy Apple hardware, Google software and Amazon media.

For many of my colleagues and the real estate pros that I work with, Microsoft and Office are an afterthought."

The author suggests that this is a winning formula of sorts in today’s crowded tech space. After reading the piece, I couldn’t help but think, “where is Microsoft on this list?” We live in a software-powered world.

The fact of the matter is many brokerages and Realtors are still invested in Microsoft’s ecosystem. People just love Excel.

Is Microsoft Office for the iPad too little, too late?

Microsoft announced that Office for the iPad has been downloaded more than 12 million times. That’s a pretty impressive number. The Office suite is topping the charts in Apple’s App Store. Sounds weird, right?

Despite being an Evernote, Google Apps and iWork power user, I downloaded the MS Office apps for my iPad as soon as they were available in the App Store and I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised. The suite responds seamlessly to touch and the apps are nicely designed, providing a positive user experience.

If you’re contemplating Office for the iPad and utilizing the software for your business, here’s what you need to know.

5 “must-knows” about Microsoft Office for the iPad.

  • Microsoft Office for iPad requires iOS 7 or later.
  • Microsoft Office is free to download from the App Store. However, it is read-only. To unlock the full version of the software, which allows you to create and edit files, requires a subscription to Office 365. A subscription to the service is $99 a year.
  • Outlook is not included in the software suite. There is a stand-alone Outlook Web App available in the App Store. However, I was unable to connect my account. The native iPad mail app worked just fine.
  • Microsoft Office is only compatible with OneDrive. If Microsoft truly wants to embrace the cloud and be platform agnostic, adding the ability to save documents to Dropbox or Google Drive is the way to go.
  • Unlike iWork, Office for the iPad does not support the ability to print. This will be a popular feature request and I’d be shocked if this item didn’t top the list of future upgrades to the software.

Microsoft certainly has some challenges to address, particularly in regards to Windows 8 and lackluster Surface sales. However, the release of Office for the iPad and other Satya Nadella initiatives have Microsoft clients and investors excited. Now they just need to get developers excited about writing apps for their ecosystem.

Are you still a Microsoft Office user or have you moved on to other apps and platforms? Leave a comment below — I’d love to know!

Tom Flanagan is the vice president of technology at Alain Pinel Realtors. You can contact him at tflanagan@apr.com or @tflan on Twitter.


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