Microsoft to make Office available for free on iPad and Android mobile devices

7 Nov 2014

Pictured: how PowerPoint looks on the new iPad for Office app

In a major strategic shift, tech giant Microsoft has decided to make its Office platform available for free as an app on iOS and Android smartphones and tablet computers.

Microsoft has launched new Office apps for the iPhone and iPad as well as a preview of Office apps for Android tablets.

Significantly it has decided to provide these tools to consumers with the ability to create and edit Office content without a subscription.

It is a bold move for the software giant since revenues from Office at US$26bn accounted for one-third of Microsoft’s US$87bn revenues last year.

“Anytime someone has an idea or an inspiration, we want to empower them to take action,” said John Case, corporate vice president, Office, Microsoft.

“With over a billion Office customers worldwide, and over 40 million downloads on the iPad, it’s clear that Office applications are what people want to use to get things done.”

Improved Office iPhone app, plusOffice is coming to Android tablets

You thought it would never happen but it has – how Excel from Office will look on an Android tablet

The new products announced include new Office for iPhone apps including Word, Excel and PowerPoint that have the same features as the popular Office for iPad app.

Microsoft has also updated the iPad apps for Word, Excel and PowerPoint.

The software giant also unveiled a preview of Office apps for Android tablets with Word, Excel and PowerPoint coming to Android tablets early in 2015.

Most significantly Microsoft said that customers on iPhone, iPad and Android devices can create and edit Office content without a subscription.

Office for everyone, anywhere

“In March, we announced Office for the iPad, a major step in commitment to bring Office to everyone, on every device and anywhere they need it,” Case explained in the official Microsoft blog.

“Since then, customers took to the App Store and downloaded Office for their iPads more than 40 million times and we’re delighted with the feedback we’ve received. Customers told us the apps are beautiful. They told us that they appreciated the familiar Office experience designed specifically for the iPad. And most importantly, they told us they wanted us to do more.

“Since then, we’ve released native apps for OneNote, Lync, Yammer, OneDrive for Business and OWA for iOS and Android and we’ve continued our investment in the Mac platform with the release of Outlook for Mac and the Office for Mac beta scheduled for the first half of 2015.

“Today we’re taking the next major step to bring Office to everyone, on every device, and I’m excited to announce that Office apps customers love are coming to Android tablets with the start of our Office for Android tablet Preview.

“We’re also delivering Word, Excel, and PowerPoint apps for iPhone and updates for the iPad apps–to ensure a consistently beautiful and productive Office experience on every device. Our vision of Office everywhere wouldn’t be complete without Windows, so I’m pleased to confirm that new, touch-optimised Office apps for Windows 10 are in the works and we’ll have more to share soon.”

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years