iPad Microsoft Office

In all the speculation that preceded Microsoft’s recent release of Office 2013, one of the most hotly debated rumors was that Microsoft would be announcing a version of Office for the iPad. Even with the debut of Microsoft’s Surface tablet, analysts said Microsoft couldn’t possibly afford to ignore the massive iOS user base.

They were wrong.

When asked point blank by Bloomberg Businessweek, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer gave a terse answer to the question of when we can expect an iPad version for Office: “I have nothing to say on that topic. … We do have a way for people always to get to Office through the browser, which is very important.”

Clearly, Steve Ballmer has never tried taking his own advice. While InfoWorld notes that the cloud-based version of Microsoft Office is somewhat improved, it’s still not a really workable solution for iPad users.

The most obvious limitation of Ballmer’s workaround is the lack of off-line access. If you need to work on one of your documents while you’re without Internet access, well, tough.

And if you want to print, well, there’s a “workaround” for that, too. You’ll have to basically “print” your document to a PDF and then print the PDF.

(Meanwhile, Android users like me are just plain out of luck on all counts, since the web apps are basically unusable on the Chrome browser.)

All in all, it looks like Microsoft Office may be going the way of the dinosaur. By going all protectionist on non-Surface tablet users, Microsoft has tied itself to the shrinking PC market and is headed for irrelevance.

Users who need a better workaround than the one Steve Ballmer has offered would be wise to check out better products offered by other companies, including the popular (and still free) CloudOn app .

(photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/smemon/7118787133/)