Even Microsoft Can’t Make Apple’s Post-PC Vision a Reality (Premium)

With Microsoft Office and OneDrive now supporting some key iOS multitasking features, it's time for a check-in. Do these additions transform the iPad Pro into a more capable productivity machine?

This is a big deal. As you may know, I've had my eye on this vision of a "post-PC" world for years. And I've watched as mobile platforms, like Chromebook and iPad Pro, have evolved in a bid to offer "good enough" productivity functionality that could finally displace Windows, which is more established and capable, but also more complex.

The iPad Pro started off as a non-event, with the first version of the product hampered by its awkward size, expensive price, and the immaturity of iOS. But last year, Apple released iOS 11, which finally addressed the need for real productivity and multitasking features. So I explored whether those improvements turned the iPad Pro into a productivity device that could replace a laptop.

At the time, I found the experience lacking for a number of reasons. Key among them was that the new iOS 11 multitasking features were particularly undiscoverable and poorly designed. Worse, app support was minimal: Some apps did support the new features, but most did not.

The general problem is that the iPad is just too awkward to be the one other device that everyone owns. Smaller iPads---the iPad mini and 9.7-inch iPad---are ideal for reading and watching videos, but they are too small for productivity work. And the larger iPad Pros---which come with 10.5- or 12.9-inch displays---are too big for a comfortable consumption experience, especially for reading.

But the platform moves forward. And last week, Microsoft announced major updates to its core productivity apps on iOS---Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneDrive---with many of the improvements aimed at shoring up their multitasking prowess, particularly on iPad Pro. Will this finally put iPad Pro over the top for those who wish to get real work done?

The short answer is no: Multitasking and productivity work remain frustrating on iPad Pro, and for all the same reasons I complained about last year. The good news? It's not Microsoft's fault.

Well, we could blame Microsoft for waiting several months to deliver this functionality in its core productivity apps. iOS 11 first shipped in September 2017, after all.

No matter. It's here now. So what's new?

As Microsoft documented last week, the latest versions of Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneDrive for iOS have been updated with a ton of new features. Here are the ones that I think fall into the "multitasking/productivity on iPad Pro bucket":

Real-time co-authoring in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint on iOS. This functionality puts the iOS versions of these apps on-par with those on Windows and Mac, assuming, of course, you're storing the documents in OneDrive (consumer or business) or SharePoint. Which you are.

Drag and drop support. Now, you can drag and drop content to and from Word, Exce...

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