Microsoft reveals behind the scenes tidbits about Office for iPad during Reddit AMA

Microsoft: Steve Ballmer approved the plan to ship Office for iPad

In a Reddit AMA (ask me anything) session today, Microsoft's Office team spoke about Office for iPad and revealed a few interesting tidbits. Microsoft released Office for iPad not too long ago, bringing Word, Excel, and PowerPoint to the iPad, requiring an Office 365 subscription for editing and creating documents.

Here are some of the tidbits from today's AMA session:

  • When asked what sort of role current CEO Satya Nadella had in bringing Office for iPad, this is what Microsoft said: "Steve Ballmer approved the plan to ship Office for iPad, before Satya became CEO. Since Satya has been CEO, he has been very supportive of the effort."
  • When asked how long it took to compile the code, this is what Microsoft said: "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."
  • When asked if Microsoft learned anything new from Apple by creating Office for iPad, this was the answer: "I don’t think we learned anything new about Apple. We compete with our products and we have an outstanding relationship with their engineering teams."
  • When asked if there were any complications in creating Office for iPad: "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."
  • When asked if Office for iPad will ever get a printing feature: "Print is a high demand feature that we intend to introduce in due course. Office 365 is a service, we are able to bring you and business users the latest and greatest Office at any given point in time.Thanks for the feedback.
  • If Apple creates a larger screen iPad, Office for iPad will scale: "Office for iPad is completely native, which should help ensure things scale well (at least thus far between the Mini and full sized iPad). We've also already built scaling into our app (you can see this most visibly in the ribbon by rotating from portrait to landscape), so we feel pretty prepared for any eventuality.
  • When asked if Microsoft was concerned that they took too long to release Office for iPad: "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."
  • When asked what took so long: "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."
  • When asked if the development of Office for iPad has delayed Office for Mac, this is what Microsoft said: "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."
  • Microsoft also spoke about the design process: "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."
  • Apple actually approved the apps on the first submission to the app store: "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!"
  • In regards to OneNote for iOS: "We're continuing to work on updating our iOS clients, and our next iPhone update will be compatible with iOS7."

Hit refresh as we update this post with more from the Reddit AMA session. Or check out the session for yourself here.

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