Skip to content
Subscriber Only

Microsoft CEO Nadella Pulls the Trigger on Long-Gestating Office Apps for iPad

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella
Microsoft CEO Satya NadellaPhotograph by David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

Fifty-two days into his tenure as Microsoft’s chief executive officer, Satya Nadella presided over his first public speech atop the company. He wisely decided against attempting to match his predecessor’s distinctive stage presence, but he was charming in his own way—making jokes about ordinal numbers, predicting the imminent future of ubiquitous computing, and promising the “magic coming-together of the cloud and mobile.” All of this prefaced the announcement of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint apps for the iPad, which had been conspicuously absent throughout the Steve Ballmer years.

A new version of Office software is the kind of announcement that’s hard to make sexy. Still, Microsoft did its best, showing off a bunch of features that were clearly designed for the tablet, including a custom numeric keyboard for Excel and a faux laser pointer for PowerPoint. The apps had been in the works for at least three years, says Ted Schadler, an analyst at Forrester Research who saw earlier stages of development. “The timing is evidence that Nadella said let’s go, but he couldn’t say let’s go unless they had a product,” according to Schadler.