Caught! how Microsoft tricks you and the media

The latest Office for iPad announcement is misleading and accurate at the same time.

You have to hand it to Microsoft .. they can write something that’s both accurate and misleading at the same time. It tricks customers and the media into thinking there’s more in a product than there really is.

They’ve been doing it for years but here’s the latest example from the blog posting about Office v1.1 for iPad (BTW, the only documentation about the v1.1 changes – there’s nothing else, let alone more detail).

But sometimes Microsoft gets caught stretching the truth and they do a quiet edit to revise history

Email not Export

Microsoft was calling ‘Export to PDF’ in the Office v1.1 for iPad apps until they got caught. The original blog headline was image from Caught! how Microsoft tricks you and the media at

And the relevant part of the article looked like this … image from Caught! how Microsoft tricks you and the media at

Except for the screen shot, all the original text talks about ‘Export to PDF’, even the photo caption.

If you look now the text has been changed to ‘Send as PDF’. But the blog web link still has the telltale keywords “…-export-pdf-top-requested-features/

(Long and bitter experience has taught us to keep a copy of Microsoft’s web posting. The company doesn’t hesitate to change an embarrassing web page on the quiet. Maybe Microsoft has their own Winston Smith to rewrite company documents?)

Using the word ‘Export’ made it sound like you can save an Office document to a PDF file on the iPad or OneDrive – but you can’t.

The v1.1 Office for iPad apps only let you EMAIL a PDF version of the open document. To save that PDF to your iPad you’d need some workaround like emailing to yourself.

But lot’s of web sites got suckered. There’s many headlines about the ‘Export to PDF’ new feature – that will have delighted Microsoft’s PR people.

Just one keyboard shortcut

Another, unchanged, obfuscation in the announcement. Here’s what Microsoft say about the Excel 1.1 for iPad and external keyboards.

When it comes to manipulating data, we know that many of you want to be able to do that with hardware keyboards. Excel has lots of behaviors we’ve built up over decades to make working with a keyboard as easy and efficient as possible. Some of these make it easy to navigate around within a cell you are editing using the arrow keys (called Edit mode), and some make it easy to enter formulas without using the mouse (called Point mode). There are also keyboard shortcuts (F2 in Windows, CTRL+U on Mac) that allow you to switch between modes.

All of this is usually completely transparent to you–Excel just works the way it’s supposed to! And now Excel for iPad does too. We’ve even added in a CTRL+2 shortcut key for advanced users to switch between the modes.”

A quick read of that and you might think that Excel for iPad now has a lot of keyboard shortcuts just like it’s Windows and Mac cousins. The first two sentences, in particular, are there to mislead you to that idea.

But you’d be wrong. Excel v1.1 for iPad only adds ONE shortcut .. the Ctrl + 2 keystroke mentioned.

We know because we’ve checked ourselves, instead of relying on what Microsoft says, while updating Office for iPad: The Complete Guide. Add an external keyboard to an iPad and you can press, for example, the Functions keys all day long … Excel v1.1 won’t do anything.

The real pity is that these tricks aren’t necessary. The Office for iPad apps are quite good and don’t need “little white lies” to promote them. If Microsoft promoted the product honestly it will be just as popular and they’d regain some credibility.

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