Recently, Microsoft announced the availability of Office for iPad. This is exciting news for iPad users who want the ability to view, create, and edit Office documents on their iPad with touch-friendly apps. Before organizations can address this news with their iPad users, it’s important for them to understand how this announcement may impact their investment in Microsoft licensing.

Ultimately, this announcement comes with two offerings.

The first, allows the iPad user to download four office applications (Word, Excel, PowerPoint & OneNote), directly from the App Store. This option is free, and allows the user “read only” access to the applications. In other words, they will be able to open the document in view only mode, and will not be able to make any edits, or create a new document. This will be beneficial for users who have the ability to access files on their iPad, or simply want to open a Word attachment from an email (Note: Excel, PowerPoint, & OneNote will also work).

The second offering allows the user to create and edit applications within the Office Suite. This option is available through Microsoft’s Office 365 offering, and comes as a paid service. For organizations that have already invested in the Office 365 E3 & E4 Suite, Office for iPad will be available as part of their investment. The Office 365 E3 & E4 Suite include Office Professional Plus Subscription, which allows the individually assigned user to install Office on up to 5 PC’s or Macs, 5 tablets, and 5 smart phones. If the organization does not have the O365 E3 or E4 Suite, they can purchase an Office Pro Plus subscription through their Enterprise Agreement, or directly on the Microsoft O365 Portal. This a la carte offering still comes with the same install rights described above. If the organization has an Enterprise Agreement, and the user’s primary device is already licensed with a traditional on premise Office Pro Plus license, they can purchase an Office Pro Plus Add-On Subscription for that user. This offering comes at a reduced price in comparison with the full subscription. Install rights, and benefits remain the same under this option as well.

Overall, the announcement of Office for iPad supports Microsoft’s commitment to continue to grow its product offerings for the mobile workforce.