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This past week Microsoft updated Word, Excel and Powerpoint for the iPad and iPhone and gave everyone a nice bonus. When they first introduced the Office apps for iPad and iPhone, you needed a paid Microsoft Office 365 subscription to do anything other than view documents on your iDevice. Sorry, I don’t need the upgrade to Office 365. My Microsoft Office 2011 works just fine, thanks. Along with the new updates, Microsoft dropped the 365 subscription requirements and added support for Dropbox. You still need a free Microsoft account, but that’s not a big deal. Start a document on your Desktop Mac, save it in your Dropbox folder, then continue working on it on your iPad. Start a spreadsheet on your iPhone and continue working on it with your MacBook.

At my former part-time office gig, one of the chores involved monthly kitchen and bar inventories. Now, we’ve used Excel to maintain these inventories since Excel was first released. Plug in the count numbers and it does all of the math, including increase or decrease from the prior month. In years past, we printed a blank copy for those conducting the inventory to fill in the blanks, then the bookkeeper transferred the written numbers to the computer. Nothing like entering 4 or 5 pages of numbers only to realize that you missed an entry somewhere along the line and you need to backtrack to see when things went wrong.

Then came the first iPad. Early on, I copied all of the inventory forms to my computer, opened and resaved them with Numbers and emailed them to our Kitchen Manager to use them on her iPad. When she  had every thing finished, she exported them back to Excel and emailed them to the bookkeeper. With this new update from Microsoft, it’s now simply a matter of copying the inventory form from the Dropbox account, filling in the numbers and saving a new copy back to Dropbox where the bookkeeper and CPA have full access to it immediately.

Does this latest update make me look at post-Balmer Microsoft in a new light? You bet it does. I’ve had a love/hate relationship with Microsoft for years. I usually avoid it at all costs. Word and Excel take forever to launch on my iMac because it insists on checking all active fonts. Hey, I do a lot of page layout work and am constantly changing active fonts, depending on the season and what I’m working on. I’ve been a font junkie since the days of my Mac Classic. Actually, I think it goes back to the days of my Apple IIc clone. I have over 700 MB of fonts not in the system folders. The delay in launch while it checks my fonts drives me up the wall. Maybe they will fix it in the future. (I can hope, can’t I?) In the meantime, I’ll probably go back to using Microsoft Office over Pages and Numbers, just because of the ease of cross-platform use and the fact that I have to collaborate with Windows users.

Finally, a favorite video to honor our military veterans:


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