Its quite interesting to hear that Microsoft Office is now free to use on mobile platforms. Initially the app required an Office365 subscription before you could do anything meaningful on it. Unless you wanted to use it as a mere document viewer without any editing or creating capabilities, the app was basically useless on these two platforms.
With this new move by Microsoft, one can now create and edit documents for free on the Office apps for Androids, iPhones and iPads without a paid Office subscription. This therefore makes the app on Android and iOS on par with its Windows Phone counterpart.
The move is baffling because Microsoft Office suite of apps is apparently a faithful money maker for the company. Offering it for free on mobile devices appears to be a misnomer. Maybe it was done to lessen the grips, free competitors like WPS Office has on users, or maybe there’s a larger play in mind.
According to their blog post:
“With Office on nearly every device, it’s incredibly important to us that customers have a consistent experience and the ability to do more–anywhere and everywhere. So, starting today, people can create and edit Office content on iPhones, iPads, and soon, Android tablets using Office apps without an Office 365 subscription.”
Despite the smoothly worded blog post, we should also note the restrictions it brings before rolling out the drums and rushing to download:
- It is free for private/personal use only, on one only device per user account. It remains a premium service for business/commercial users.
- Documents saved on OneDrive for Business, SharePoint or Dropbox for Business cannot be accessed without an Office365 subscription.
- Advanced editing features like WordArt, enabling or disabling track changes, Presenter View in PowerPoint documents and landscape mode are out the window. If you want anything beyond basic everyday editing you are expected to cough up the cash. Premium features on a previously edited document can be used but not turned on. PCWorld lists it in more detail.
The above limitations might not be a worry for most. If you’re interested, download/update the app on your iDevice or sign up for the preview on your Android device to enjoy the new Office. Let us know what you think of it.