Hello from the Office for iPad engineering team!

In the first week since launch we’ve seen over 12 million app downloads and heard a lot of valuable feedback. We’re already incorporating that feedback into future updates, and to kick things into high gear, we are partnering with Reddit for the next 2 hours to give you an opportunity to ask us anything (well, nearly anything) about Office for iPad. We have developers, testers and program managers from each app team (Word, Excel and PowerPoint for iPad) here to answer your questions.

We’re all so excited to finally be able to share what we’ve been up to – Right from engineering for the cloud, reimagining productivity for people on the go to optimizing for iPad while remaining true to our Office roots. We are very much looking forward to the conversation!

This post can be verified here: https://twitter.com/Office/status/453555512190054400 and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SwUYBpPpyH0

-Sangeeta Mudnal & Jeff Zhang (for the Office for iPad Team)

Edit We're going to stick around for 30 more minutes (till 11:30am Pacific). It's been awesome! http://imgur.com/uNPE6Jm

11:30am Pacific Time We're finishing up. Thanks everyone for your  questions and comments. Please tell your friends about Office for iPad. We may try to get to some of the unanswered questions in the next few days. Goodbye!

Comments: 2907 • Responses: 83  • Date: 

heytherehandsome3239 karma

On the Itchy & Scratchy CD-ROM, is there a way to get out of the dungeon without using the wizard key?

officeforipad2365 karma

You should know that this question confused the hell out of our PR and marketing teams. So, awesome job!

officeforipad602 karma


officeforipad993 karma

What the hell are you talking about?

  • Charlie (not Homer)

hinesh745 karma


hinesh484 karma


officeforipad886 karma

Yes, we are working on the next version of Office for the Mac.


officeforipad522 karma

Actually, we are also the Office for Mac team. :-) -Nell

FrenchTater112 karma

Has your iPad work delayed the next version of Mac Office? I'm still waiting for a real Cocoa version of Office (AFAIK 2011 still uses Carbon primarily, despite a few Cocoa UI elements).

officeforipad338 karma

The code for Office for iPad and Office for Mac is shared, as the development platforms for both are very similar. :) The iPad work required us to create an all-new UI and to redesign the interface between UI and the internal logic. That work actually helps us with de-Carbonizing Office for the Mac, instead of delaying or hindering it. We're able to create new Cocoa UI on the Mac and tie it into the new logic interface now.

Schwieb (development tools wrangler)

weltraumMonster530 karma

Did you have to pay the 99$ for the apple developer account?
Did apple approve your apps for the app store on the first try?

officeforipad714 karma

We have a very normal team Apple Developer account. And yes, Apple did approve the apps on the first try. We're very proud of that!

Schwieb (developer tools wrangler)

catchabreak404 karma

How's Clippy?

In all seriousness, how do you feel your software stands as a mobile experience on Apple hardware? Did you have to trim it down at all? Do you feel like it can compete with iWork, being that iWork has a bit of a head start?

officeforipad573 karma

First, let's get one thing straight: on the Mac, it was Max, not Clippy. Max was an icon of a Mac SE, and, when he got bored, he'd turn himself into a Rubik's Cube. In typical Mac fashion, Clippy was lame. Max was cool.

I think the experience stands up well, and the reviews we've all seen generally confirm that we've come close to hitting the sweet spot in the trade-offs all developers face when bringing desktop apps to a mobile device.

As for competing with iWork, I think the two products really have different aims and audiences. There's some overlap, but the variety of user needs is really very broad. In that sense, Office and iWork more compliment each other than compete with each other.

--Rick (Word dev)

HouseOfTelcontar310 karma

Office: That dress is rather fetching on you. iWork: Why thank you. You don't look so bad yourself.

Office and iWork are always complimenting each other.

officeforipad386 karma

Office: "Does this dress make me look fat?"

iWork: "Oh look! A chicken!"


speedy621392 karma

So PC or Mac? HueHueHue

officeforipad1105 karma

Well, you know whom you are talking to :) http://imgur.com/1jHVmH8


peterkingsnuggets404 karma

Doughnuts and watermelon on the same plate?

That's a bold move Cotton, let's see if it pays off.

Speaking of bold moves: there was an offer to give a year subscription to the first 50 people who walked into a Microsoft store in the U.S. when Office came out. I live in Spain. There's no Apple Store and the only Microsoft store (on Fuencarral street was open for a like a month before Christmas/Reyes).

Can you imagine the karma you would get if you gave me a year subscription? And the marginal cost is ZERO!

officeforipad255 karma

Hola! Si quieres puedes probar un mes gratis de O365 http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/try/ El karma no sera el mismo, pero por lo menos puedes ver que tal funcionan nuestras apps! -Marta

neoneye324 karma

Indentation. Do you use spaces/tabs? How much do you indent?

officeforipad501 karma

That's a holy war and we are the knights who no longer say Ni.

Schwieb (development tools wrangler)

Cuneus_Reverie258 karma

Are you afraid that you have waited too long and that the adaptation of another tool is well underway?

And how do you plan on beating Apple's offering, in the home, which is free?

officeforipad329 karma

Rushing Office for iPad, or any product, leads to sub par experiences — which we absolutely wanted to avoid. We are super excited about the 12 million downloads in a week (thank you!) and reaching the Top 3 in App Store — and we think this is a good measure of success relative to our competition. We’re glad we took the time.


webby63223 karma

Best prank during development?

officeforipad610 karma

We had a team karaoke event and some of us convinced one of our dev managers to sing "Barbie Girl" with us. A few months later, he went on an extended vacation, and we took the opportunity to upgrade his office to a Barbie Princess theme:

https://imgur.com/2xcvdeF https://imgur.com/9EG8YDI


webby6363 karma


officeforipad318 karma

We also stuck a speaker in his ceiling tiles that played Barbie Girl nonstop for a while before he figured it out and took it down... Nell

officeforipad276 karma

Don't leave your office empty over the holidays...

  • Derek Johnson, Sr. PM Lead, PowerPoint for iPad/Mac

officeforipad257 karma

Another time, a different one of our dev managers was moving on to a new team after a long tenure with Apex. As a gesture of farewell, someone moved his entire office out of his actual office and in to the lobby a few days before he was scheduled to move to a new building. (He used his "new" office right up until the day the movers carted his stuff away!)


zack12189 karma

So you think we will get to see outlook for ipad anytime soon?

Twinkie_Zombie330 karma

Also, how about MS Paint?

officeforipad598 karma

I like the MS Paint idea, how about also making it connect to the cloud. :)


officeforipad86 karma

Currently, for work email, we have OWA for iPad. To read Outlook.com email (previously known as Hotmail), you can use the iPad Mail app. -- Kaberi, Technical Product Manager, Office for iPad

SomeWittyComment180 karma

Do you feel like traitors to the rest of Microsoft?

officeforipad693 karma

This will date me, but, when I applied for a job at Microsoft, my resumé said that I was interested in working on application software for Windows, Unix and OS/2. Microsoft hired me to work on Word for the Macintosh, and I've been a Mac developer ever since.

So, I'm a Mac person because of Microsoft. If that makes me a traitor, it's all Microsoft's fault.


officeforipad261 karma

We may be those crazy Apple/Mac/iOS people, but we're still Microsoft! (I get more funny looks from my team for my Windows phone than from the rest of Microsoft for my iPad. :-D)



officeforipad200 karma

Most definitely not--this is what I see on the Microsoft building I walk into... http://imgur.com/GRh1yKH

  • Derek Johnson, Sr. PM Lead, PowerPoint for iPad/Mac

officeforipad110 karma

This quote from Satya says it all for me: "...we are absolutely committed to making our applications run what most people describe as cross-platform great. There's no holding back of anything. It is about being able to excel everywhere our customers are. One of the questions is, is this a massive tradeoff for you? There is no tradeoff. It's reality for us. It's not a competitive reality. That's not what motivates us. What motivates us is the realities of our customers."

So I feel like my work is more aligned than ever with the company's vision.


zack12173 karma

Since Microsoft is famous for dog fooding. Did you guys used Xamarin and C# to write the office for ipad or is it native obj c? If not do you have any plans further down the road to use C#?

officeforipad291 karma

The Office for iPad apps are completely native! The core logic, such as Excel’s recalc engine or Word’s text layout code, is C++ code that we compile and share across all of our platforms. The UI is all completely native Objective C; we did not use Xamarin or C# to develop our UI. As for using C#, we do use some C# for internal tools. I imagine we’ll continue to use the appropriate native frameworks for each platform (UIKit for iOS, AppKit for the Mac, etc).

  • Schwieb (development tools wrangler)

colony26169 karma

When will we see this on Android tablets?

officeforipad151 karma

We want to bring great Office experience to our customers who want to be productive on their tablets. In the future we will bring Office apps to the Windows Store and other popular platforms, including Android tablets. No dates yet... Sangeeta Mudnal, Group Program Manager, Excel

internet_commenter154 karma

Why isn't Office for iPad available in my country?

Edit: OP replied 5 minutes ago asking what county and then immediately erased that reply. The country is Israel.

Edit2 (an hour later): Got a reply.

officeforipad333 karma

Office for iPad is not yet available in Israel because our support for right-to-left languages (like Hebrew) does not meet our standards. We want to make sure that (1) documents look as good as they do on a PC, and (2) you don't lose any content or formatting when you edit on an iPad. We aren't able to guarantee both for right-to-left languages (Hebrew, Arabic) right now and have decided not to launch yet in countries whose primary languages are RTL. -- Kaberi, Technical Product Manager, Office for iPad

internetsquirrel62 karma

Why did it take so long to make the iPad version? Despite the download numbers do you think you missed out by taking the time it did to produce the app?

officeforipad72 karma

Since we were designing Office for iPad from a “blank slate” so to speak, we wanted to take the time to deliver the highest possible quality Office experience that is fully optimized for the iPad. A wise man once said, “Details matter, it’s worth waiting to get it right.” That rings true for how we thought about it.

Han-yi Shaw, Group Program Manager & Design Manager for Office for iPad

nevanking53 karma

You said that you're using a shared framework for the text rendering in Word (i.e. shared between platforms). Has it been the same rendering engine since the 90s, or has it ever been rewritten? Do you use anything at all from Text Kit on iPad?

officeforipad69 karma

No, it's not the same rendering engine from the 90's. I'm reluctant to give exact dates (I can tell you what I had for breakfast, I just can't tell you when I had it), but we rewrote the core several versions ago.

Word uses some of the low-level Core Text features to get information about fonts and glyph sizes, but at the line layout/page layout level we use the same engine that Win Word uses. If we use any of the higher-level features of CoreText, then line beaks and page breaks won't be the same across the various versions of Word.

--Rick (Word dev)

officeforipad10 karma

Document fidelity is super important so we do share layout engines cross-platform. But we also leverage platform technologies like Core Text and Quartz for actual rendering. -Jonathan

sag96949 karma

I'll be honest, it's kind of frustrating that full blown native Office apps came to iPad before Windows 8 modern/start versions (other than onenote).

That being said - since you guys are the Office for iPad/Office for Mac team, how much collaboration is going on between you guys and the Office guys for Windows 8? Will the apps look/function similar? Do they share code? Or are you completely separate?

officeforipad44 karma

We are part of the broader Office organization and we collaborate with our Office for Windows partners on a daily basis. We share lots of ideas and application code between the teams — and it’s worth mentioning that Office for iPad could not have been possible without this tight collaboration with our Office for Windows partner teams.


nuqqet9k48 karma

Is Satya the MSsiah like the tech media is portraying him? How much of the recent headline-making moves can be credited to him, and how many were Ballmer's?

officeforipad128 karma

The decision to ship Office for iPad was made before Satya became CEO. Steve Ballmer approved the plan to ship Office for iPad. -- Kaberi, Technical Product Manager, Office for iPad

Universu39 karma

Just wondering does NASA use Office at the ISS?

officeforipad186 karma

NASA definitely does use Office, not sure about on the actual ISS, though I sure hope so.

In fact, they once escalated an Excel issue where their complaint was essentially that the upcoming launch would be delayed by a few months if we didn't address their problem. We solved that one. :)

:: Dan, Excel for iPad

downmodmyass37 karma

1) How big is the MS Office iPad team?

2) Is the team new recruits or moved from other projects inside Microsoft?

3) How long did it take from Design to Release?

4) Any new or interesting features under progress?

officeforipad89 karma

1) About this big (and we do Mac Office too!)

2) We are our own, happy team. People can definitely apply to join the team from other parts of Microsoft just like any other team though.

3) A while, but it was worth it in our opinion to deliver what we think is a great touch version of Office.

4) Yup! One of the great things about Office 365 being a subscription is that you can expect to get frequent updates, so stay tuned! We think you'll like them.

Dan, Excel for iPad

officeforipad17 karma

Shoutout to the PowerPoint team: http://i.imgur.com/OWFxD8E.jpg

gaming3730 karma

Do you think introducing Microsoft Office for iPads will decrease demand for Microsoft tablets, such as the Surface?

officeforipad48 karma

No. Surface has unique differences that set it apart from iPad. For example: Using it as a tablet and a PC; running real PC applications; attaching a good old mouse; awesome pen support; attaching multiple monitors etc. -- Kaberi, Technical Product Manager, Office for iPad

mav19429 karma


officeforipad70 karma

karizma2315 karma

First, thanks so much for your hard work in creating this awesome software! And congratulations on its success thus far!


1) Office posted yesterday a picture of your iPad lab where you test these apps. Can you tell us more about the testing lab setup? Any special challenges with testing iOS devices? Also, does it feel like Christmas Day when you get that many iPads in and unbox them all?

2) What's your favorite free beverage at Microsoft?

3) Any chance you would consider adding a pass code lock to Office for iPad apps?

Thanks! Oh, and a shout out to jleblanc again!

edit: added a question, grammar

officeforipad26 karma

The lab is an impressive sight (http://i.imgur.com/XbOzn51.jpg - http://i.imgur.com/lZUeVjO.jpg) and getting a bunch of new ones is absolutely like Christmas.

Wireless saturation was an issue, since we actively use them for automated testing. We had to add extra access points just for this part of the lab. We also went through a few different cabling and racking solutions, we needed them to be facing forward so we could interact with them, but also fold up out of the way so we could get access to the Macs behind them.

Coke Zero + Lemonaide


JZMX53 karma


officeforipad71 karma

I'm escalating this to the lab team immediately. Thank you for the feedback.

nathanl119218 karma

Is that…. is that Comic Sans?

officeforipad23 karma

It is indeed! I'm trying to get them to switch to Comic Neue Light though.

:: Dan, Excel for iPad

pigasaurusrex2 karma

Is that the lab in Las Colinas?

officeforipad2 karma

No, this lab is in our building in Redmond.


scotthowl14 karma

When will it be possible to write extensions for Office for iPad using the new Apps for Office model? Im looking forward to that.

officeforipad33 karma

Sections 2.7 and 2.8 of Apple's App Store Review Guidelines emphatically state that downloading, installing, or launching any sort of code other than your app's own code is prohibited. I don't know if Apps for Office would be allowed in the iOS App Store.

Schwieb (developer tools wrangler)

adertal12 karma

I've been eagerly anticipating the release of Office for iPad ever since I got one (about 3 years ago). However, I'm still running on iOS 6 and can't download it. I guess what I would like to ask is whether it is possible for an app to be compatible with both iOS 6 and iOS 7? And if so, why is Office only compatible with iOS 7? Forgive me if that's a stupid question, but I really don't know anything about how apps are designed and am just curious.

officeforipad35 karma

Over 85% of iOS devices connecting to the Apple App Store are running iOS 7 (https://developer.apple.com/support/appstore/) We want to provide the best possible experience on the most prevalent UI, so we chose to require iOS 7.

Schwieb (developer tools wrangler)

PandaCasserole8 karma

Engineering student here. I'm really excited to see OneNote make it to the iPad. I have already started taking notes, and so far it is the one program I have ever cared to take notes on. But yourself being engineers, I'm sure you have had to use mathematical notation with your notes, I recently downloaded the mathematical add on for my PC, but I have absolutely no option with the iPad or macbook air. That pretty much rules out me being able to take any notes using OneNote. Is there any plan to bring mathematical notation to the iPad? or Office for mac? Otherwise all the office apps are useless to me.

Thank you for doing this ama I excited to see improvements!

officeforipad15 karma

Thanks for the feedback! We've heard from several students like yourself that equation support would be useful. We're looking into it.

-Avneesh, PM on OneNote Mac/iOS

elerium17 karma

Do other Microsoft employees throw stuff at you in the halls and call you traitors?

officeforipad13 karma

Dollar bills :) - Fergal

Shaeos5 karma

Hi! Is there any chance that it looks like the normal office and isnt a completely new version ill have to 're learn to teach my mom over the phone?

officeforipad4 karma

Hi! We actually spent a ton of time creating an interface that we think is both optimized for touch and iOS, but also familiar to people that have used Office so far. If we've done our job well, your time spent as tech support to your mom should be kept to a minimum. :)

  • Dan, Excel for iPad

lkuhn651 karma

Are you working with other Office app teams to bring some of your UI innovations to Office on other platforms - like Win8 modern?

officeforipad3 karma

We work closely with all the Office app teams to make sure the apps look and feel similar. What innovations would you like to see spread from Office for iPad?

  • Derek Johnson, Sr. PM Lead, PowerPoint for iPad/Mac

DangerDance3 karma

What are the chances that you guys will bring back Clippy?

officeforipad2 karma

Not high. Now the wizard...

:: Dan, Excel for iPad

officeforipad2 karma

HoboRiot3 karma

Are you going to include a flight simulator?

officeforipad11 karma

That was Excel 97, and if you find the temple you can see my name scroll by.

Easter eggs are frowned upon nowadays (apparently too many people spent too much time at work searching them out and playing the mini-games) so we don't make them anymore.

There is an easter egg in the old Remote Desktop Connection app that I don't think anyone ever found...


dan_lau1 karma

I remember an easter egg in Office v. X - something about not licking the controls. Han-Yi might know more...

officeforipad2 karma

What easter egg? ;-)


Barren232 karma

As somebody who is downloading these apps for the first time as I type this, can you tell me what the best way will be to access documents? I have a list of excel sheets that I'd love to access/edit from my ipad. I have several cloud storage locations, is that the best method? Or should I copy the documents local to my ipad via iTunes? Also, I read somewhere about not being able to edit xls files? Do I need to update my format to xlsx?

I have purchased the Apple suite of editing apps, but never really cared for them.

officeforipad2 karma

Hey! So we think the best way to work with Office for iPad is to have your workbooks, documents, etc. all stored in OneDrive so that you can access them from anywhere. You can also side load workbooks directly onto your iPad if you prefer though.

With regards to XLS, while we don't allow you to save back to that file format, we do support loading it, and we'll give you the option to convert it to XLSX if you want to edit it.

Let us know what you think!

:: Dan, Excel for iPad

karizma232 karma

What are some of the cool vintage Apple products you have in your office(s)?

officeforipad1 karma

I'm the proud owner/creator of this cubequarium: http://thecoolgadgets.com/powermac-g4-cube-the-cubequarium/ It's in my office


urf_the_manatee2 karma


Where there any unforseen complications in the making of these apps? How did you handle it?

officeforipad7 karma

Yes, we ran into a number of complications, most of them involving resource constraints. For example, if you opened a document in Word with a lot of comment bubbles, Word would run out of memory. Fixing some of these required re-architecting some features, which is one of the reasons it took us so long.


officeforipad2 karma

To pile on to what Rick said, PowerPoint ran into similar resource constraints for SlideShow. We wanted to make sure that everything worked as you would expect (transitions, animations, etc.) and as you can imagine that is quite hard to do on a small device. We had to make several trade-offs to get the experience just right for our customers.

Sukhmeet Toor, PowerPoint for iPad/Mac

Wiiggin2 karma

The apps use a similar visual language as Office on Windows platforms, but obviously evolved for the screen size and interaction style of the iPad. The ribbon in particular went under heavy adjustment. What was the design process for that like?

officeforipad3 karma

There was a great article about the process. Check it out: http://mashable.com/2014/03/27/microsoft-office-ipad-story/

officeforipad1 karma

An important design goal was to be Unmistakably Office, Optimized for iPad. An touch-first and slate-optimized Ribbon was indeed a cornerstone of this effort. The design process entailed bringing over the essential Ribbon functionality, but with a fierce reduction of complexity. Our goal was to make the Ribbon as minimalist as possible — if something wasn’t essential, we left it out. In terms of visual language, Office for iPad represents a fusion of the best of both worlds: Microsoft’s Modern Language and Apple’s latest iOS 7 aesthetics.


laurens932 karma

Hi guys, how long does it take to compile the apps (Word, Excel, Powerpoint)? And how many lines of code are there? :)

officeforipad3 karma

On a top-of-the-line MacPro, it takes about 6 hrs to build all the apps. On an iPad, it'll probably take a year ;) Office has several million lines of code -- more than a million, less than a billion :)

Sukhmeet Toor, PowerPoint for iPad/Mac

officeforipad2 karma

Too long, and lots! Seriously -- Our iOS code is shared with our Mac Office code so it's difficult to separate out how long each flavor takes to build.

I work with Apple's developer tools (Xcode, clang compiler, etc) and we're always looking for ways to improve our build performance.

Schwieb (developer tools wrangler)

daniel_decrissio2 karma

If you could add one thing to Word what would it be?

officeforipad8 karma

But in all seriousness, Printing ;-)

yen2232 karma

What was the most challenging part of porting a Windows application to an iOS environment? Was the code completely rewritten in Obj-C, or did you guys use some kind of cross-compiler?

officeforipad1 karma

Actually, we didn't port the Windows apps to the iPad. We started with the Mac Office code base, and ported it from Carbon to Cocoa/UIKit.

The code itself is a mix of C/C++ code for the core logic and Obj-C code for the UI. There is some seepage across the UI/core logic boundary where UI code is C/C++ and core logic has some Obj-C code, but we work hard to make the core logic use the same code across not just Mac and iPad but Mac, iPad, Windows, Surface and anything else that might come along.

The biggest challenge was working within the resource contraints of an iPad vs a desktop Mac, and the issues span a wide gamut from memory to processor speed to battery usage. Getting Word's scrolling to be so smooth as it is, for example, took a fairly impressive engineering effort.

--Rick (Word dev)


Why? Why the iPad mini??

officeforipad1 karma

I like to travel light - fits in my coat pocket! iDerik, Word for iPad

onyx0651 karma

What languages do you guys know? My uncle knows C# and used some software to make an app out of it. Did you guys do the same? How long did it take and how much money was involved? Also well done on the app I shall download it some point this week!

officeforipad1 karma

We use C/C++/ObjC for the product code, but tester write code and tools in C# as well as scripting languages. Most engineers have a computer science background and/or degree, some with an MS.

ThatProFish1 karma

If. You know anything about onenote, then I'd like some help if that's alright. I just can't sign into my office365 account on onenote, I know the pass and email is right but it just won't sign me in. Any thoughts?

officeforipad1 karma

OneNote requires you to sign in with a free Microsoft account (different from Office 365). This could be your login for Xbox Live, OneDrive, Outlook.com, etc. Did you try that log in? If so and it's still not working, le me know.

-Avneesh, PM on OneNote Mac/iOS

Micenkio1 karma

Do you think that Microsoft Office for the iPad will ever gain the same market share as you currently have for PCs and MacBooks? Even though more and more people are owning tablets, they are a lot less intuitive to use. Have you made your product more accessible to these difficulties?

officeforipad1 karma

These are the real Microsoft Office apps designed for getting work done on iPad. The apps are unmistakably Office but built from the ground up for iPad. Initial feedback from customer has been very good. You can count on Office for iPad to keep your content and formatting intact. With great content fidelity and many more features, we hope to get better and better market share. Sangeeta Mudnal, Group Program Manager, Excel