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iPad, Tablets and Office, oh my...

Author by Kirk Poser

Intro to Productivity Apps

We all know that Microsoft Office is the most widely known and used suite in the Enterprise. Those of you who may have ventured into Open Source products quickly realized that sometimes you get what you pay for. Sure, it does a lot of the functionality that Office does, but weigh that against user acceptance and support costs and you quickly realize that there is no free lunch out there. I have also used the Apple products: Pages, Numbers and Keynote. Although very eloquent with some awesome features, again, the user acceptance and learning curve were steep. Before I get slammed by the Apple fanboys, let me state I think it is crazy to have to choose a camp. I use Microsoft products and Apple products. There are a lot of things I think Windows 7 does better. There are a lot of things I think Apple does better. Why do I have to choose?

Working with Word files

Working with Word files on an iPad can be a challenge. Not an insurmountable challenge, but really just a different way of thinking than in the Windows world. First, is getting documents into your iPad to work with. For individual files, you can use iTunes and synch those files into your iPad. If you need to work on multiple files, I would suggest the free service called Dropbox. This is a “Cloud-Based” storage that integrate wonderfully with an I-device, and offers a free App for you to use. Now you can work on files in the cloud, and when you save them, they are in your Dropbox account safe and sound. Dropbox files can also synch to multiple computers so you can access the document at home as well as at work. There are many other offerings out there, but Dropbox by far is my favorite.

Microsoft SharePoint, Office 365 and others

Microsoft SharePoint and Office 365 also work very well to store documents in your Enterprise structure and open them from within I-devices (We will delve more into this at a later time) Once you have access to your documents, you will need a program that allows you to work with office documents. (Remember, iPads and Office documents are two different worlds) I have tried quite a few Apps on my iPad to find the one I like the best, and so far it is QuickOffice HD.  Here is their product description: “Create, edit, & share Microsoft® Office documents, spreadsheets, and presentations, as well as view PDF files, on the go with the most connected office suite for iPad. Our Connected File Manager enables you to access, transfer, and manage files on your iPad and through Evernote, Dropbox, Google Docs, Box, Huddle, SugarSync, Egnyte, and Catch. Sharing features allow you to publish your content using e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Yammer, Slideshare, Scribd, and Docstoc”. Check it out yourself and see! Here are some other “Office” options:
  • Documents 2
  • Documents To Go
  • iWork apps (Pages, Numbers, and Keynote)
  • Office2 HD
  • Quickoffice Pro HD
  • Smart Office
Keep in mind that working on documents on an iPad is a lot different concept than doing ALL your work on an iPad. Even if you pair a Bluetooth keyboard up to it, it still will be a challenge to do extensive work. I prefer to look at my iPad as a way to make edits or review documents for minor changes, but I still prefer to work on a Windows 7 machine. (Note, I didn’t say MAC, because my definite preference is Office 2010 to Office 2011 for MAC-later discussion) As hard as I try to carry just one device, I actually carry two now: iPad 2 and Asus EP121 with Windows 7. Again, why do I have to choose when I can use the best of both worlds?

"Techy" Apps

If you border on the “techy” side, there are two new players that are trying to change it up on using Office: OnLive Desktop and CloudOn. CloudOn brings to the iPad a similar experience to Microsoft’s web apps. The app opens up with a version of the ribbon and familiar commands, and allows you to work on your documents in their native location. OnLive desktop takes a totally different view of working with Office files. Once you sign up for the free account, when you open the app, it appears to push down to your iPad a virtual Windows 7 desktop loaded with office. Very cool concept, it’s free, but one of the challenges I have uncovered so far is that I have to upload document to their server in order to work on them. Both of these products are fairly new, so I expect to see many more enhancements as they mature.


If you want to work within Office but still maintain a tablet form factor, then take a look at the Asus EP121. Mine is Windows 7 64-bit, 4 GB RAM and a 64 GB SSD hard drive that rocks. This is probably one of the best tablet devices out there, and I will be switching it to Windows 8 probably on the next update to test it out. This tablet has:
  •  Ultra-performance tablet with an Intel® Core™ i5 processor.
  • Multiple data input options (Digital Pen, Bluetooth keyboard, fingers) for increased productivity.
  • 12.1" screen with a wide viewing angle and built-in high quality speakers for an excellent entertainment experience.
SALES NOTE: This is not an inexpensive tablet, but the OneNote capabilities are Awesome for taking client notes and synching it back to my office desktop.

In Summary and other things to note:

  • The iPad can work with Office documents in a variety of ways, but in my opinion, a limited version, not completely taking over my desktop computer chores.
  • It can be an effective tool to do One on One PowerPoint presentations or product videos (I love this ability)
  • It can be a great place to store documents that I need to read, or maybe an easy way to carry product manuals
  • Applications to work with Microsoft Office are relatively inexpensive, but not meant to replace the office suite on your desktop.
  • On the downside, iPad can be a challenge for IT to support in the field. Not impossible, but a challenge. This support challenge will also be a topic of discussion down the road.
  • OneNote  is available on the iPad now!
  • Lync is available on iPad now too!
As always, your comments are welcome, as well as sharing what works best for you. No matter what we sell, the basic concepts are the same, and using technology to solve our challenges is the direction this blog is intended for!

Kirk Poser

Senior Account Manager