Microsoft today unveiled its long-awaited version of Office for the iPad. Satya Nadella released the product in San Francisco during his first launch event as CEO of the company.

The new Office suite for the iPad comes with three separate apps: Excel, Word, and PowerPoint, all of which are optimised for the iPad’s touchscreen interface. Just hours after launch, Word is already Apple’s app store’s most downloaded application for the iPad, with Excel and PowerPoint taking the third and fourth spots in the chart.

The free apps released today only allow users to open existing Office files, not edit them. iPad users can only edit or create documents by downloading an Office 365 subscription. How many users choose to sign up for the $70-a-year service rather than continuing with the free and low cost apps previously favoured by iPad users remains to be seen.

Microsoft has been criticised for not offering a version of Office for the iPad sooner, and some will say these apps are too little too late. Nevertheless, offering the productivity suite to the iPad creates a large new market for Office, which already produces over half of Microsoft’s profits. This market is growing where others are in decline: IT research company Gartner expects tablet sales to come close to levelling with PC and laptop sales this year, and the iPad is one of the world’s best selling tablets.

The touchscreen iPad apps give clues to how Metro Office apps for Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 might look. The iPad-specific features showed off by Microsoft today included a numeric keypad for the Excel app and a virtual laser pointer available in PowerPoint. The apps appear very well finished given that they are the product’s first version, suggesting they have been in development for a long time.

Though many will say Microsoft are entering the iPad market too late, the outlook for productivity apps on the platform looks positive. Analytics firm Flurry estimates that US tablet users spend just 5 minutes a day using productivity apps, a figure that could be significantly boosted by Microsoft’s release of a full Office version for the iPad.