Microsoft has long struggled with its strategy for Office on mobile devices. Does it want to make these apps free to use, encouraging lucrative sales of Office software on the desktop? Can it convince users to pony-up for ongoing Office 365 subscription fees, dangling these mobile apps as a carrot on a stick? The Office smartphone apps may have launched with requirements for 365 subscription, but Microsoft eventually backed down from that position, making them full-on free. But even as that change arrived, tablet users still found themselves forced to pay up. Rather than continuing to seed confusion and leave customers without clear expectations, Microsoft’s throwing in the 365 towel, making the full Office suite across mobile devices – phones and tablets alike – free to use.
Microsoft describes the change as one that brings mobile Office in line with the company’s web-based offerings, which are also free to access. At least, that’s the case for individual users, and businesses intent on having their staff use Office on their Androids and iPads will still need to pay.
Beyond this strategic shift, we also see the company deliver new versions of its apps. The iPhone release gets a substantial overhaul, and the long-awaited Android tablet version of Office has reached the point where Microsoft is accepting open registration for the beta, coming out next month.