Posted: Tue 25th Jun 2013
Want to use Microsoft Office while out and about? Yes? Well let's get back to basics,Â writes Francesca (left). If you're the type of mobile worker that spends a significant amount of time producing content on the move then your best bet is to have an ultraportable laptop. If all you need to do is consume content and maybe some lightweight editing then maybe you could get away with a tablet device.
Mobile phones to review and edit Microsoft Office documents should only be used in an emergency when you have no other choice but to remind yourself of the details you sent a client you're just about to meet! So was it a big deal that Microsoft finally released "Microsoft Office for iPhone" in the UK earlier this week? Yes and no.
First the 'gotchas':
It's meant to be 'for iPhone'; it doesn't work on an iPad. It won't install on an iPad2 and anything more recent will be running it in 'iPhone mode' - ie,Â either too small or too pixellated.
You need a Microsoft Office 365 subscription in order to activate the product and start opening and editing documents. Alternatively there is an in-app purchase forÂ£79.99 (yearly - yikes!).
You can open any Word /Excel /PowerPoint document from Dropbox or email in the app, but can only save it in SkyDrive /SkyDrive Pro /SharePoint (Online).
Functionality is pretty limited (as you would expect) given the screen real estate.
Now the good things:
It's free (if you have an Office 365 account).
It allows us to access SharePoint Online from an iPhone (without having to fork out for SharePlus for Â£13.99).
The user interface is actually pretty intuitive when you get used to it. It has been well designed for the small screen.
It works with SkyDrive and SharePoint Online whereas other office suites - for example,Â Quick Office and Documents to Go -Â don't.
There are enough even handed reviews and opinions here, here and here, out there that will run through functionality you should expect from Microsoft Office for iPhone. But my opinion is: if you can try it, then do so; if not, then you're not really missing out on anything earth shattering that hasn't already been provided by Quick Office or Documents to Go. Is it worth forking out Â£79.99 GBP (a year!) to be able to edit Office documents on your phone? Hell, no. Is it worth it if you're editing documents across a number of PCs, Macs and online? Probably, yes.
So you still want to edit Microsoft Office documents when out and about? Well I think we've covered your phone options - but what about on a tablet device? Well you could use:
Quick Office HD (now owned by Google) with Google Drive and Dropbox.
CloudOn (remote desktop based access to full desktop versions of Office 2010).
Office Web Apps if you roll with SkyDrive or SharePoint online.
But, whisper it quietly, there is an alternative. Have a look at the Surface RT tablets that have been plummeting in price recently. They run with an almost fully fledged version of Microsoft Office. For example, the Dell XPS 10 (with detachable keyboard -Â which has a battery life of 15 hours; hello?) is available for Â£289 + VAT. In the next service pack (Windows Blue), it will even have a version of Microsoft Outlook and the return of the Start button. Hallelujah. Francesca Geens is the founder of Digital Dragonfly, and provides IT support, advice and consultancy to independent professionals.
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