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Not feeling old yet? Office for iPad completes 10 years since its launch

A graphical representation of Microsoft Office apps

Microsoft Office for iPad has completed a decade since its release. It can be viewed as a significant milestone considering millions of apps exist in the mobile ecosystem, many of which come and go in a flash.

While the original MS Office was launched around three decades ago in 1990, Office for iPad was still a big milestone for the company. It was the first version of Office built for tablet computers and its launch on March 27, 2014, was Satya Nadella's first public speech as Microsoft's CEO.

Back then, the Office suite was already available for iPhone and Android but offered a single app called Office Mobile. Microsoft released three standalone apps Word, Excel, and PowerPoint as part of Office for iPad. The CEOs of both Apple and Microsoft celebrated the launch through their respective Twitter (now X) accounts.

Microsoft said during the announcement that these "apps have the robust capabilities and familiar look and feel that is unmistakably Office, while offering a fantastic touch experience built from the ground up for iPad." The Redmond giant explained that the apps offer an experience similar to Office apps on Windows and Mac while keeping a touch-first approach and added:

The large touch areas on the Ribbon and in overlay menus make it simple to create, edit and format documents using only touch. Resize and rotate objects like pictures with touch-friendly handles. When you hold and move the objects, text flows smoothly around them. No keyboard and mouse required.

Original Microsoft PowerPoint version for iPad

Office for iPad was initially offered in 135 countries with support for 29 languages and required an iPad running iOS 7 (or later). Users could view, share, or present Office content for free but needed an Office 365 (now Microsoft 365) subscription to unlock the full experience, including creating and editing documents.

Microsoft lifted the price barrier a few months later in November, allowing users to create and edit Office documents for free. It also released separate Office apps for iPhone and Android on the likes of their iPad counterpart. Interestingly, Office for iPad had reached over 40 million downloads by that time.

Microsoft's mobile real estate

On a side note, it's the hard truth for Microsoft that it couldn't keep its mobile operating system fighting against Google's Android and Apple iOS. It was hard to pull the plug on Windows Phone, Nadella said in an interview, adding that "there could have been ways we could have made it work."

The company may have lost the operating system game but made efforts to build what makes a smartphone useful: the apps. Not just Office, its fleet of apps for Android and iOS/iPadOS released over the years has paved the way to success in the smartphone world.

SMS Organizer was initially a Microsoft Garage project that made it to Google Play in 2017 and has crossed a million downloads. You can find various Microsoft-made apps such as Authenticator, Edge, Teams, Remote Desktop, and Microsoft 365, with downloads ranging from tens of millions to over a billion on Google Play alone.

Microsoft bridged the gap even further by adding Android support to Windows via Phone Link. The feature syncs your Android smartphone's notifications, text, and calls. You can transfer photos and even mirror your display if you have a compatible device. Phone Link also works with iPhones but some features may offer limited support.

With that said, Microsoft has a new territory to explore with the arrival of Apple's spatial computing headset Vision Pro. Several Microsoft-made apps are already available for visionOS in addition to Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.

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