What the release of Microsoft Office for iPad means for developers

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The release of Microsoft Office iPad apps was certainly something worth waiting for, with Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote very quickly hitting the top of the free iOS App Store charts.

Apple was happy to promote the suite on its front page, driving users to the app. And Microsoft was happy to offer the full-featured Office experience on non-Windows platform - more on why this is important later.

One of the important features of Office 365 is the ability to work on multiple devices, and the release automatically allowed all of those with Office 365 subscriptions (from work and home) to get a great productivity experience designed specifically for the iPad screen.

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The scenario is easy to imagine: you're at home or travelling and inspiration suddenly hits you for a work project - and all you have is the iPad on your lap you've been playing 'Candy Crush' on.

On iOS you fire up the app as you want use Microsoft tools rather than a fiddly word processing or spreadsheet program that creates a file you may have to format to work on your Windows Office computers (and face it - that's what most people will have).

You write the document, create the deck, or plug in the spreadsheet numbers. It's automatically saved on OneDrive. The next morning, you fire up your work computer, open up your Office software on another platform (Windows or Mac) and there you have it - simples.

The release of the Microsoft Office iPad app is part of Microsoft's devices and services strategy - a commitment to offer cross-platform services so whatever device you are using, developers can create software for it.

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Build 2014 showed that Microsoft's future is mobile and the cloud. And the CEO of Microsoft, Satya Nadella, was clear that with Microsoft Azure, developers are free to create apps on whatever platform they want, whether running on iPad, iPhone, Android, Windows Phone or anything else.

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