Last week, newly-minted Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella, introduced Office for iPad. In addition to the immediate benefit of finally having, well, Office on our iPads, it also signals a possible shift in Microsoft’s strategy. I have discussed Microsoft’s strategic woes in a previous blog post, and can only hope that this is the beginning in a long series of needed changes.
For now, nonprofits may be wondering how this impacts them. There are a few key things to realize when considering the iPad version of Office for your organization.

Read Only Version

Office comes as 3 separate apps which can be downloaded and installed from the App store: Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. All 3 are free to download. However, they are read only by default. This can still be useful if you need to review docs and want to make sure the formatting is unchanged.

Licensing for the “Full” Version

Office for IpadIn order to edit Office documents on your iPad you will need an Office 365 subscription. Many nonprofits are taking advantage of the fact that the Enterprise 1 (E1) licensing level for Office 365 is free. Unfortunately, this does not entitle you to use Office for iPad. If your organization is on E1, and you enter your credentials into Office for iPad, you will get an error message.
You can upgrade to the E3 (Enterprise 3) level on a user-by-user basis for roughly $4/user per month. This provides several benefits including larger archiving and storage capacity, legal hold for mailboxes, the eDiscovery toolkit for compliance and the ability to install any version of Office on up to 5 machines.
For example, with E3, you can install Office 2013 on your Windows machine at work, Office 2011 on your Mac at home, and Office for iPad on your tablet…and you’d still have two more licenses left.
If you only want Office, and not the expanded storage and other E3 benefits, you purchase the Office 365 ProPlus subscription as an add-on to E1. This is $2/mo per user and can also be done on a user-by-user basis.


Yes folks, it’s Microsoft licensing. So it can be a little confusing at first. Here’s a brief summary: 1. Office iPad read-only – available for anyone to use from the App store 2. Office iPad full version – available for $2/user per month with Office 365 ProPlus 3. Office iPad full version – available for $4.50/user per month with Office 365 E3
The full summary is available on Microsoft’s site.
Remember, it’s on a user-by-user basis, so you can purchase E3 for your executive staff, ProPlus for managers who don’t need to retain as much email, and E1 for other staff, volunteers and interns who do not need full Office licensing.

Why the air quotes around “Full”?

Microsoft has done a good job of optimzing Office for the touch screen interface on the iPad. In fact, early reports suggest that it works better than Office on the Surface Pro. It does not provide the complete functionality that the desktop versions provide but, honestly, who is going to be rocking pivot tables on their iPad?

Where to now?

We don’t know exactly what Microsoft is going to do next, but this is an encouraging start. The other part of the problem with Office documents on an iPad is where and how to store them. We discussed this topic in greater detail in our January webinar on File Sharing in the Cloud. It is beyond the scope of this post, but Microsoft is clearly positioning SharePoint to be the solution.
We eagerly await Nadella’s next move.