How long have iOS users been waiting for the arrival of Microsoft Office? We got our first real evidence that development on the project was underway all the way back in February 2012. Over the months that followed, we heard additional launch rumors, and caught some additional glances at signs revealing Microsoft’s ongoing efforts. Most recently, a new set of rumors suggested that the whole cross-platform mobile Office initiative was seriously delayed, and we wouldn’t see any iOS version until late 2014. We already saw that rumor get its Office RT info wrong, and today we learn that it was off about iOS Office as well, with Microsoft releasing an iPhone version.
That’s the first caveat; well, maybe. While a tablet may seem like the perfect home for office software, news of this first iOS MS Office release has painted it as iPhone-only. We’re not quite sure about that, as iTunes notes compatibility with the iPad 3 or later, as well as the iPad mini, but that may have been a new development since the app was first listed in the wee hours of the morning.
The larger issue may be the price, or rather the lack of a fixed price. You can’t simply buy Office for iOS. Instead, Microsoft has elected to milk users to the tune of $10 a month (or $100 a year) for an Office 365 subscription – that’s the only way to access the app at the moment. Sure, that money also gives you access to all of Microsoft’s cloud storage goodies, and lets you use Office on PCs, as well, but we’re guessing it might not be the solution a lot of you were hoping for.
Beyond all that, the apps themselves are apparently quite limited in their functionality. We’re talking only very basic markup tools, and a total inability to save documents locally. Editing might be passable, but power users will be itching for more options. Still, it’s a start, and we’re sure we’ll see Microsoft build these apps up from here.