by James A. Martin

3 Ways to Use Microsoft Office on iPads Without ‘Official’ iOS Apps

Oct 12, 20123 mins

Rumor has it Microsoft won't release its own "official" iPad Office apps until December for businesses and until February for consumers. In the meantime, here are three alternative ways to use Office documents on your Apple tablet.

The Internet was all abuzz yesterday with rumors that Microsoft won’t release native iOS Office apps for businesses until December and for consumers until February 2013. Andy Patrizio’s Microsoft Explorer blog has the full story, including Microsoft’s denial of those rumors.

Microsoft Surface tablet

Meanwhile, Microsoft’s big push into Windows 8 tablets will be fully unveiled at a company event scheduled for October 26. Hmmm. I wonder if these two stories have anything in common…

A great deal is riding on Microsoft’s push into touchscreen-enabled tablet computing—the future of the company, for starters. So you really can’t blame Steve Ballmer for not wanting to steer focus away from its Surface tablet and Windows 8 debut with an iPad Office app release.

Still, in this BYOD-cloud-mobile era, Microsoft has remained tied to the traditional desktop for way too long. Of course, that’s where the bulk of the company’s revenue comes from today, so it makes some sense. And it’s not as if Microsoft hasn’t tried to go mobile. So far, its mobile efforts—the Windows Phone OS and the various CE devices before them, SkyDrive, and Office Live 365—never really gained much traction.

We’ll have to wait until October 26 and beyond to get a more complete picture of Microsoft’s mobile computing future. I’m honestly hoping the company has some seriously “wow” stuff in store for us, like charging $200 or so for the Surface tablet (which has been rumored).

In the meantime, while we wait (and wait) for native Office iOS apps, here are some things you can do to boost your productivity while using Apple’s tablet.

* Get Office apps via Google Chrome and SkyDrive

Ian Paul, in sibling publication PC World, detailed how you can create and edit Office docs on an iPad via a combination of the free Chrome browser for iOS, the SkyDrive cloud-storage service and Microsoft’s cloud versions of Word, Excel and PowerPoint. The process isn’t seamless, but it might just work for you.

* Give Office² HD a try

In this slideshow, InfoWorld’s Galen Gruman picks the best Office-compatible and productivity tools for iPads including Office² HD ($8) for word processing. I’m a fan of Office² HD, too, especially because—unlike other iPad office suites—it supports Word’s essential Track Changes feature.

* Run Office apps in a virtual environment

CloudOn is my favorite app that let you run cloud-based Office apps in a virtual environment on your iPad. It works well with Dropbox, offers the best on-screen keyboard for use with cloud Office apps and has other goodies. Read more about it and other options in my post “3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office on Your iPad, Android Tablet.”

Your Office iPad Workaround?

What are you using to create or edit Office-compatible docs on your iPad? Share your experiences in the comments below.