Office for iPad looks good, but is it good enough?

Microsoft finally made it official today by unveiling Office for iPad, a trio of apps enabling users of Apple’s tablet to read documents and make presentations in Word, PowerPoint and Excel. And while the software has been available for only a couple of hours, it’s getting rave reviews: Engadget describes three beautiful apps, Mashable proclaims that while it may not be perfect it’s what we needed all along, and ZDNet said Office for iPad sets the gold standard for tablet productivity.

The obvious question, then, is whether users will pony up the $99 annual subscription fee for Office 365, enabling them to create and edit documents in Office for iPad. As my colleague Kevin C. Tofel points out, a wide variety of productivity software has become available to iPad users over the last few years, most of which is free and works (to one degree or another) with Office. Some of these offerings also work with Google Docs, which continues to gain traction. Office for iPad will have to be very compelling to get many of those users to switch from the apps they’ve grown accustomed to using.