I typed this part of this post from my iPad while still logged in from my MacBook Air. A red flag appears in the text to indicate the presence of my MacBook Air login within the document, and my changes from either device were updated and reflected on the other system in real-time.
I was able to format text—adding a heading and changing text to bold or italic—relatively easily from the iPad. When I select a word or section of text on the iPad, a contextual menu of formatting options is presented to make it easy to cut, copy, paste, or format the selected text.
I'm not completely convinced that it replaces the need for a native iPad app, but it is a quantum leap forward from previous versions. The new Office Web Apps at least make Ballmer's assertion feasible, if not ideal.
Throwing down the gauntlet
Apple recently took aim at Microsoft Office by making its iWorks productivity software free for all Mac OS X and iOS users. However, many of those users were upset when they discovered that Apple had stripped features and dumbed down the desktop versions of the apps to make the experience more consistent with the iOS apps.
Microsoft has a much wider audience. The Microsoft Office desktop software is available for both Windows and Mac OS X, and Microsoft offers a mobile version of the Office apps for Windows Phone, iPhone, and Android phones, in addition to these Office Web Apps.
The fact that Microsoft took the opposite approach—adding rich functionality and new capabilities to the Office Web Apps to bring them closer to the desktop experience—gives it an edge and makes Microsoft Office and Office Web Apps a better choice for productivity and content creation no matter what platform or device you're using.
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