Office for IpadNow that Microsoft’s popular Office suite of applications has finally made its way to the iPad, IT managers—who previously shunned the tablet in favor of equipment that granted their workers more productivity—are taking a second look.

For many companies that rely on Microsoft products (and that’s still most companies these days), the lack of Office has been a sticking point against the widespread adaptation of iPads. Certainly, employees want to use iPads because of their elegant design, ease of use, well-stocked app store, and “coolness” factor, but it was difficult to justify the cost when on-the-go workers still had to take along a laptop if they wanted to edit an Excel spreadsheet or create a Word document.

True, Office Mobile for iPhone has been around since last year, but that app has limited functionality compared to the desktop version of Office, and the iPhone’s relatively smaller screen is not exactly the ideal workspace for creating PowerPoint presentations and editing lengthy Word documents.

According to a 4 1/2-star review in PC World, the new iPad version of Office is not only a vast improvement over the iPhone version, but also Apple’s own productivity suite, iWork. In fact, says the PC World reviewer, working in Office on an iPad may even be a superior experience to working in Office on a laptop:

“Office for iPad represents the distilled Office experience, poured into an iOS glass. Quite frankly, I prefer it to working in Office 2013, if only because Microsoft organizes the most commonly-used functions so intuitively, using an icon-driven ribbon at the top of the screen.”

Goodbye Laptops, Hello iPads

If the availability of Office is enough to convince you that it’s time to upgrade your some or all of  company’s fleet of laptops to a fleet of iPads, there are a few precautions you should take before you retire those laptops. You need to make sure those decommissioned laptops are disposed of properly and that all the data stored on them has been properly and completely destroyed. You have a few options for your company’s old laptops:

  • Reuse. While some of your employees may be itching to get their hands on the latest iPads, there may be some who would well served by an upgrade to a newer or more powerful client. If your older laptops can still serve a useful purpose in your organization, there’s no reason to get rid of them.
  • Remarket (resell). This is a great option for companies that want to recoup some of their investment in laptops and put that money towards new iPads. If you’re going to go the remarketing route, however, it’s critically important that you have the data stored on those laptops wiped clean by a certified data destruction provider. Allowing sensitive data to leave your company’s control can expose you to all kinds of risk, including noncompliance with regulations like HIPAA and PCI DSS.  Even though you may require that your hard drives are wiped internally before you ship them out, our analysis has shown that as many as 10% of those are not sanitized properly.  A certified vendor will ensure that 100% of your data is erased.
  • Recycle. Recycling is the best option for laptops that have no use to your company or anyone else. To maintain compliance with all state and federal environmental regulations, your company’s laptops should be recycled by a vendor that has been certified by e-Stewards, R2/RIOS, or, ideally, both.

Finally, it’s never too early to start planning for the disposition of your new iPads. Because they use solid-state drives rather than conventional magnetic drives, iPads and other tablet devices have different data destruction requirements than laptops. Read our post, “How to be Sure You Securely Remove Data from Corporate iPads,” to learn more about iPad data destruction.