After rampant speculation that the next version of Microsoft Office would be iPad-friendly, hopes were dashed when the preview version of Office 2013 (a.k.a. Office 15) was released without a companion iPad app. Instead, Microsoft chose to support its own tablet Surface and ignore the massive iPad user base.

But workarounds soon sprang up, and Microsoft seems to have changed its tune (somewhat). If you need to edit your Microsoft Office documents on the go with your iPad, here are a few of the options that are out there.


CloudOn is a free app that “brings Microsoft Office to your iPad and links it to your Box, Dropbox and Google Drive accounts,” according to its iTunes page. (Good news for Android users: there’s a version of this for you, too.) The app allows you to create and edit documents in Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint formats. The Ribbon in each application isn’t exactly like the one you would see in Windows, but it’s close enough for anyone familiar with the Windows versions.

InstallFree Nexus

Despite its deceptive name (it’s a cloud-based app, so there’s nothing to “install”), InstallFree Nexus is a Software as a Service offering that can also integrate with your cloud storage. Although it promises to open up Microsoft Word to any device that can run a browser, the app is not necessarily getting a universal thumbs-up. And if you want to use it after the free 60-day trial, it’ll cost you anywhere from $19.99 per month to $199.99 per year (assuming you’re not a student who qualifies for discount).

OnLive Desktop

At the time OnLive Desktop was introduced, it seemed too good to be true. And, apparently, it was. A legal tussle about Windows 7 licensing resulted in the service being moved from a Windows 7 virtual environment to a plain Windows Server. The result? A seriously downgraded user experience. And that’s too bad.

Office² HD

While this particular app (which works on both the iPhone and the iPad) isn’t free, it’s cheap enough (under $10) that it might as well be. The interface doesn’t mimic the native Office interface as closely as some others, but it does allow for full screen editing. In short, it’s not a full-blown substitute for Microsoft Office, but if you’re away from the office and need to do some quick editing, this will do in a pinch.

Office 365

If you’ve got an Office 365 subscription, you can always use the browser on your iPad to access it. Microsoft seems to have relented somewhat on its anti-iPad stance by providing at least “experimental” support for touch screen features. There may be Android and other tablet versions on the way as well. But be prepared to pay a monthly fee once your free trial runs out.

How are you doing it?

If you’ve figured out a great way to edit your Microsoft Office documents on your iPad or other tablet, let us know in the comments below.

4 responses to “Microsoft Office on iPad”

  1. Dan says:

    I think you may have jumped the gun on critiquing MS for not releasing an iPad app yet… Office 2013 has not been released yet. There is still speculation of a dedicated iOS app.

    In addition, Microsoft has released free “webapp” editing with a account… like Office 365, but free/consumer:

  2. Richard Kemp says:

    I have used the Pages app millions of times to edit Word Documents. I have created documents in pages and edited them in Word. As long as there isn’t heavy formatting, it does a very good job of translating. Same goes for Excel and PowerPoint. The three Apple Apps are a fantastic work around. And the latest update has made it better.

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