As a follow up to my recent post on Microsoft office and the iPad I decided that this was a big enough item to warrant finding a way of testing it.
Thankfully I found the one person in my network who has actually signed up to the snappily named “Office Mobile for Office 365 subscribers” . Thanks to Simon Rolph for testing, notes and screen shots. For simplicity sake I am going to call the product OM365 from now own.
And my overall impression of OM365 is that it has been well thought out, but lacks the familiar look and feel of Office products. This will require the user to learn new ways to interact with documents . The product works much better with newer document formats created using Office 2011 and 2013, but being a Mac user with Office 2013 (which I am having to re-learn from earlier versions) – I found switching to the limited interface that OM365 had to be challenging.
It worked well on the iPad (in compatibility mode) although in reality using the 2x zoom feature does not make the most of the iPad 3 and 4 display.
You can see why Microsoft have made this version free and linked to your office 365 subscription , basically people would not pay for this from the apps store and how would they control free downloads if it was tied to an existing Office install on your machine?
Installation of OM365
The first thing we noticed when trying to download the client is it is compatible with iOS6.1 devices, iPhone 4 and above AND iPad 3rd generation or above. But not with older iPad’s. The Office version was widely touted as the iPhone release and actually the good news is it works pretty well on an iPad 3.
…is very straight forward.
- After downloading and starting the application you will be asked to Activate office using the Microsoft account that is associated with your office subscription. The activation took about 15 seconds over a Wi-Fi network.
- If your office 365 account is already linked into skydive, documents in this drive will then appear after 2 or 3 introductory screens;
Basic document viewing and editing
The basic document viewing is very good, but then again you would expect it to be. Having tried various other cloud based office programs such as cloudOn most programs can cope with current and generation -1 versions of Microsoft office. The same is true of OM365. When you open a document, you get a very cut down menu bar at the top of the window.
The ribbon from left to right is common across all the office file types you open and give you the following sub menus
Back, File Options, Editing, Viewing Tools
Once you get used to the sub-menu’s they are very effective as the screen below (flitering data shows).
In the case of the this particular workbook, it was an Office 2007 created document and therefore the file cannot be edited.
Opening up the excel sample document however, show a edit can take place really easily.
The experience of opening other types of office document is very consistent across the product, but the ribbon options change slightly according to the document you have opened. As an example opening the sample Microsoft powerpoint document gave a different set of ribbon options and views, allowing relatively easy access to moving slides around and editing text.
The moving slide function was very easy to use and adopted a common user interface layout on the iOS device. You simply drag the 3-bar dashed line on the right hand side of the screen to re-order the slide.
Offline working is supported as long as the document has previously been opened (and therefore downloaded). I haven’t tested this feature but wonder whether you can stay offline for a significant period of time without the application complaining.
In general the edit txt functionality did not allow you to select chunks of txt using the keyboard (e.g Shift+Keyboard arrow) . This is a use case that is particular to my setup (iPad 3rd Gen with Logitech ultrathin keyboard) . This is something I do quite a lot in most of my applications but did not work in the OM365 app.
- Microsoft office and the iPad (beyondmobileltd.wordpress.com)
- IPhone Microsoft Office Not Worth Wait: Rich Jaroslovsky – Bloomberg (bloomberg.com)