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Microsoft General Manager Julia White demos the Office 365 app. Although Office for the iPad is free, it requires a subscription to Office 365 to create and edit documents.

Office breaks out on the iPad

Microsoft claims move marks era focused on devices

Associated Press photos
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella speaks Thursday at the unveiling of Office for the iPad, a software suite that includes programs such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint.

– Microsoft has released an iPad version of its popular Office software suite, a breakthrough heralding a new era under a CEO who promises to focus more on the devices that people are using instead of trying to protect the company’s lucrative Windows franchise.

Thursday’s unveiling of the much-anticipated iPad apps for Microsoft’s bundle of word processing, spreadsheet and presentation software comes nearly four years after Apple Inc. released the tablet computer that has contributed to a steady decline in sales of desktop and laptop machines running on the Windows operating system.

Microsoft’s decision to relent to persistent demands to make its top-selling software application available on the world’s most popular tablet comes seven weeks after the Redmond, Wash., company anointed Sayta Nadella as its CEO after being led for 13 years by Steve Ballmer.

The change in command gives Microsoft Corp. an opportunity to prove it’s a more nimble company adapting to evolution of computing instead of clinging to its old ways.

Nadella, who has been working at Microsoft for 22 years, emphasized that he felt rejuvenated since taking over as CEO.

“You see things from a fresh set of eyes and fresh perspective,” Nadella told a crowd gathered in San Francisco for his first major public appearance as CEO.

The Office app for the iPad represents a major step in the right direction for Microsoft, FBR Capital Markets analyst Daniel Ives said. “They finally looked in the mirror and realized they needed to go with the crowd in terms of iPads,” Ives said.

Like other analysts, Ives thinks the Office app for the iPad could generate an additional $1 billion in revenue for Microsoft.

Although the Office app is free to anyone who wants to read Office’s Word, Excel and PowerPoint programs on the iPad, it will require a subscription to Microsoft’s Office 365 to create and edit documents on the device.

The Office 365 subscriptions cost $70 or $100 annually, depending on setup the types of devices that can be used.

But millions of other people with iPads probably haven’t had a reason to buy an Office 365 until Thursday. Nearly 200 million iPads had been sold through the end of 2013.

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