Yesterday we saw Microsoft make an aggressive move to capture the mobile productivity market, freeing all versions of its iOS and Android Office apps from the requirement for paid Office 365 subscriptions. While that sounded great on the surface, there were a few limitations, like how business users would still have to pay up for Office 365. We also heard at the time that certain features wouldn’t be available in the free version, like certain “advanced authoring, analysis, [and] presentation” tools. But just what counts as “advanced?” Would you find yourself not having access to features you consider pretty darn essential? A more complete list of what you can’t do with the free Office apps is now emerging, and it sure seems to include some not-very-advanced-sounding features.
Don’t like the look of big blocks of text and want to split a document up into columns? The free Office apps will let you view files formatted in such a manner, but you won’t be able to create new docs with columns yourself. Working on a sign you’d like to have oriented landscape-style? That’s also a no-go with the free version, forcing you into portrait mode. You can spruce up your text by changing its color in the free release, but only to a pre-set palate; you’ll have to pay to choose custom colors. Creating a table and want to add some color to improve readability? Again, that’s a non-starter for the free Office apps. Need to track changes? Same deal.
We know, you get what you pay for, and we should be happy to have any kind of free Office. But for those of you who were expecting to dive right in and find a relatively rich document creating experience, you may be sorely disappointed – and maybe just a little tempted to pony-up for an Office 365 subscription to unlock the rest of Office’s tools.