The full version of Microsoft Word's software is not available for the iPad, but you can still view and even edit and create Word documents if you download the right apps. The best app for you will depend on how you use Word and how many of the advanced features you need. You can also use alternative word processing programs that will create text-based files that others can view in Word, but the features may be limited.
Word-compatible apps are plentiful in the App Store, but not all of them have the same features and abilities. In your search for the right Word-compatible app, look for one that offers document editing and creation features, as well as simple document viewing. Look for apps that feature high user reviews and recent updates. If the developer continues to support the app with updates, you are more likely to get an app that has fewer bugs and may receive new features over time.
Due to power and memory limitations and programming compatibility, the advanced features in Word are not likely to be available in iPad apps. As of March 2011, there are no stable apps that allow full use of the Track Changes function in Word, and image importing and editing features are limited or nonexistent in the Word-compatible apps. You also do not have access to Word's template library or style features.
Apple's "Pages" app, created as a business and student word processor platform for the iPad, offers a limited-feature version of its full word processing software, which is the Mac version of Word. This app does not allow the change-tracking features available in full versions of Pages and Word, but you can add images and choose from a variety of templates and text formatting styles. Pages can also open Word documents for editing and save your files as Word .doc files.
For users who need full access to all of Word's features, but prefer the touchscreen interface and portability of the iPad, remote computing is an option. The App Store offers multiple virtual private network (VPN) and remote desktop protocol (RDP) apps. While not Word-specific, these apps can allow you to use your iPad as a virtual PC, controlling all of your laptop or desktop computer's files and programs. Using this interface, you can launch Word on your computer and use all of its features via your iPad. VPN software is generally more flexible and secure but difficult for novices to set up, while RDP offers easy access if your iPad and computer are on the same network, but may require advanced setup if using a different network. Look for an app that is compatible with your computer's operating system version, such as Windows 7 Home and Student or Snow Leopard for Mac.