While the idea of Apple’s iPad Pro plus the smart keyboard and pen (see https://www.bapcs.co.uk/ipad-pro-boosts-productivity-and-creativity/) might have office types slavering at the idea of being productive with all that glorious 12.9-inch screen space, there’s a small hitch. While Microsoft may have taken to the stage to promote the new Office apps on the device, users will need an Office 365 subscription to do anything more productive than viewing documents.
That’s because Microsoft considers devices wider than 10 inches as productivity tools, so while you can download the Office app for free, you need to subscribe to Office 365 to gain access to the more usable features. For individual users, Office 365 costs £7.99 a month, providing access to cloud-stored documents on any device or within the desktop Office productivity apps.
You can save about 40% buying an annual subscription for £59. Office 365 for Business rates start from £3.10 per user per month, but that doesn’t include iPad support. However, the remaining tiers from Business, Business Premium and Enterprise levels do. Businesses with large numbers of users can get discounted enterprise rates. The Business plan allows installation of the Office suite, including Word, Excel, Outlook, OneNote and PowerPoint, on up to five devices. The higher tiers add in Microsoft’s communication and social tools, plus more storage, while the Enterprise version adds analytic and compliance features for major users.
The iPad Pro, while expensive for an office productivity tool, is Apple’s effort to get more businesses using iPads. The company has partnered with IBM, Microsoft and others to improve its business credentials. If all of that means users get to play some Infinity Blade III or Angry Birds 2 during their quiet time, then fair enough, but the emphasis will be on getting businesses to see the productive capabilities of iOS and not just the fun content.
With Microsoft set to launch its Surface Pro 4 next week, the company will soon be focused on its own hardware, and battle will be engaged as the two fight over business sales. But as Microsoft focuses on services first, there seems to be less enmity between the two.