and portability make tablets a good laptop substitute for commercial real
estate professionals, but they lack some essential business apps that would
make them the ideal on-the-go tech tool. Among these is a native Microsoft
Excel app that is capable of running macros and other advanced Excel functions.
This shortfall is especially critical for CCIMs, who have been trained to use
Excel-based financial tools in the Institute’s courses.
about a Microsoft Office app have floated around the Internet during the past
year. In mid-2012, Microsoft announced its new Surface tablet, which includes
Excel and went on sale in October.
commercial real estate pros who have already invested in a tablet and aren’t ready
to replace it with the Microsoft Surface or wait for rumors of an Office app to
come to fruition, there are some alternatives. The following apps provide some
practical workarounds for using macro-enabled Excel files on iPad and Android
OnLive Desktop and CloudOn
Desktop and CloudOn are two free apps that connect users to cloud-based
versions of Microsoft Office. The apps, available for iPad and Android tablets,
include Excel, PowerPoint, and Word. Both apps run full versions of Office 2010 and are equipped to handle the macros used in CCIM’s
Excel financial tools and any other functions found on a desktop version of
users must create an account on the company’s website as a first step. CloudOn
users are prompted to create an account on their tablets after downloading the
app. OnLive runs Windows 7, so programs are opened either via the start menu or
by tapping a desktop icon.
interface is built around file browsing, so it doesn’t have a Windows desktop
layout like OnLive. Once inside an Office file, the two apps are nearly
is free and doesn’t offer tiered pricing. OnLive’s basic service is free and
includes 2 GB of storage. For $4.99 per month, users can upgrade to OnLive
Desktop Plus, which includes integration to cloud-based storage services Box
and Dropbox. The paid version also includes a Flash-enabled version of Internet
To open a
file with OnLive’s free version, users must upload it to OnLive’s website. The
maximum file size is 100 MB, and only five files can be uploaded at one time.
Synced files appear in the app’s “documents” folder. To download a file created
with the app, users have to log in to the website and click the file name.
OnLive, CloudOn doesn’t host files. Instead, users access files stored in one
of three cloud-based storage services — Dropbox, Box, or Google Drive. Files
opened in CloudOn save automatically, so the “file” tab in Microsoft Office’s
ribbon menu is disabled. While the auto-save feature can be helpful, disabling
the file menu also disables the “save as” feature. Without that feature, users
can’t save files in different formats.
app can share files through iTunes, and only CloudOn is an “open with” option
for iPad email attachments and Internet file downloads.
Licensing and Other Limitations
free versions of programs that cost more than $100 to download to your desktop
computer raises licensing questions. Unfortunately, neither Microsoft nor
OnLive have offered clear guidance on these questions. Gartner, an information
technology research and advisory company, cautioned that “Microsoft could hold
both OnLive and its customers responsible for any potential mislicensing.”
Gartner recommends that companies considering OnLive review their Microsoft
licensing agreements prior to using the app.
both apps presents a different set of mobility and usability challenges. Since
both run in the cloud, neither work without a Wi-Fi or data connection. Neither
app has redesigned Office for tablet usage, which means navigating Excel
worksheets or menus with finger taps could frustrate users who are accustomed
to the accuracy of a mouse pointer.
access apps give tablet owners an alternative to OnLive and CloudOn, but these
workarounds face similar limitations as the apps.
a popular free remote access app, gives tablet users access to software and
files on their desktop computers. As when using OnLive and CloudOn, the tablet
must have Internet access to enable LogMeIn. The remote computer also must be
on (not in sleep mode).
logged in, the remote desktop’s screen is shrunk to fit the tablet screen. As
when OnLive and CloudOn, this presents usability problems. Tapping an Excel
cell that was shrunk from a widescreen monitor to fit a tablet display can be
Office clone apps, including QuickOffice and Documents To Go, include programs
to edit and create Excel files. These apps work for iPad users looking for
basic spreadsheet functionality, but they don’t support macros and
more-advanced Excel functions. If Documents To Go doesn’t recognize a function,
it locks the spreadsheet. Numbers, Apple’s spreadsheet software, is available
as an iPad app and can open Excel files. Similar to the Office clones, it has
some Excel functionality, but cannot run macros.
is interactive marketing manager at the CCIM Institute.