Microsoft Office: Enabling the iPad to do 'real work'

Windows users and Microsoft will tell you that the iPad can't do real work since it doesn't have Office. What will they say once Office is on the iPad?

I've covered how I use the iPad for work, and that Microsoft's play with Office on the iPad has an enterprise focus. That coverage always gets a knee-jerk reaction from many that without Office and/or Windows doing real work is not possible. Perhaps that's due to how individuals define real work, but the thought that the iPad is not good enough is widespread.

iPad Real Work2
iPad Air Image: James Kendrick/ZDNet

Even Microsoft has pushed in its Surface ads that you must have Windows and/or Office to do real work. We're told in no uncertain terms that this is an advantage over the iPad, and if we want to do real work we'd better get onboard the Surface train.

So, what are these Windows enthusiasts and Microsoft going to say once Office for the iPad is released, as is expected to happen soon ? If we believe the hype that Office is needed to do real work, that should open the iPad up for it even for nonbelievers.

See related:  Office for the iPad: It's all about the enterprise

The iPad naysayers are getting their new arguments ready for such a reality. I've already heard that even with Office, the iPad screen is too small to be used for heavy Excel and Word editing or creating, ie real work.

That overlooks the fact that the 9.7-inch iPad display is not much smaller than the 10.5-inch screen of the Surface tablet, which has always been applauded for its ability to handle real work. In fact, with its different aspect ratio, the iPad's screen is longer (though narrower) in landscape orientation, which is used for most big spreadsheet work, than that of the Surface.

Those who don't like the iPad will tell you that heavy spreadsheet lifting can be done with the Surface at the desktop, with a big monitor plugged in. That's a fair argument, but it must be recognized that rarely is the iPad the only computer people have available. Owners often have a big monitor at the desk, too.

In the enterprise in particular, it's likely that workers assigned an iPad will still have some desktop system in the office. Unlike the Surface, iPads aren't sold as a sole computing device. They are supplemental devices that won't usually be used for stuff like big spreadsheet work, so there's additional gear for that — just like there is for the Surface when a big monitor is in the picture. But the iPad alone could do such work in a pinch, just like the Surface.

This belief about the iPad is not shared by just a few, I hear every single day that the iPad isn't suitable for doing real work. I still regularly hear that Apple's tablet is a toy, a fad, a fashion accessory, and that it will soon go away as a result.

Millions of iPad owners know that's not true, and many have been using them for work even without Office. Once they can do 'real work' with Microsoft Office, they will be even more convinced of the iPad's utility. No matter what others may argue.

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