Over the weekend, Microsoft released a Hebrew version of its office suite of applications Office 365 for Apple's ubiquitous tablet. Office was available on the iPad since the end of 2014, without support for Hebrew; the latest update is also bundled with integration of Arabic and Thailand.
The move is an important development for Israeli users, as Office still rules the market (despite a variety of free alternatives). The arrival of Office for iPad in Hebrew will finally allow users of Apple's tablet to use their mobile device as a complete workstation.
The Office for iPad suite includes Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. It is available to download for free to those seeking only limited functionality (reading and editing documents) but requires a subscription to Office 365 to unlock its full capabilities. A subscription for a single PC, tablet, and smartphone costs 30 shekels per month or 300 shekels per year.
A "Globes" test-drive of Word for iPad showed that Microsoft excellently executed the port to Hebrew. The Hebrew interface was adapted for a touchscreen experience (including in Excel and PowerPoint).
The software supports writing from right-to-left, maintaining proper formatting even when numbers and English-language words are inserted. No matter what you throw at the app, the sentence remains correctly displayed in the appropriate direction.
Furthermore, starting a document on the iPad and then using Microsoft's cloud service OneDrive to open it on your home computer worked flawlessly.
It must be noted that Apple long ago made its office suite, iWork, available in Hebrew, and for free. Apple's offerings work as standalone apps that do not require an internet connection (like Microsoft's Office) and provide backup through iCloud, allowing for access to documents from a Mac computer or an iPhone.
Despite Microsoft's investment in a Hebrew-language version for iPad owners, Mac users continue to be ignored, with Office 2016 still lacking support for Hebrew.
On the other hand, Microsoft released a mobile Office suite for Android in English at the start of 2015. This version is expected to be updated with support for Hebrew later this year.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on July 26, 2015
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