Microsoft’s new iPad apps are of the so-called «freemium» variety, meaning they require in-app purchases to unlock certain features. In the case of Office for iPad, free features include document viewing, but users need to have an Office 365 subscription to make edits. Existing subscription holders can sign in immediately, though Microsoft also built in a subscription purchasing mechanism in each Office app.
Microsoft also announced some new tools designed to help developers create and deploy touch-centric business apps running on Windows 8.1 Update, which the company began rolling out to Windows 8.1 users last week. Among those tools:
As noted by MacRumors, Microsoft first suggested it was interested in bringing its Office suite of software to Apple’s iPad in early 2010. Some industry watchers have suggested that Apple’s policy of taking a 30 percent cut of all in-app sales may have delayed the release of Office for iPad. Microsoft may have also been hoping that the unavailability of its Office software on Apple’s iPad would help draw more users to its own beleaguered Surface line of tablets.
«I think Microsoft has taken a substantial step in the right direction with the changes to the cost and availability of side loading keys. Couple this with the increasing maturity of projects like (Magenic’s open-source) OrgPortal and CompanyStore and I think we’re getting to the point where WinRT (the Windows 8 runtime programming interface) is something to consider for business app development,» Lhotka said.
All three flavors of Windows now run on a common software core, or «kernel,» with a common runtime (i.e., the set of tools necessary to run programs). The major remaining differences between them have mostly to do with how they handle user-interface issues across a variety of devices, input methods (think touchscreens vs. mouse and keyboard), hardware (not just CPU and memory, but graphics processors, accelerometers and other sensors) and screen sizes.