Microsoft Office is one of the most popular office suites available today, and as of recently it has finally made its way into more than just Microsoft's own corner of the mobile computing world. In late June, Microsoft quietly released Microsoft Office Mobile for the iPhone, and yesterday we learned that they also released Office Mobile for Android as well. Many people who prefer to use Android and iOS have been waiting a long time for Microsoft to port a mobile version of office to these two popular platforms, but now that they have and the details of how one can obtain the application on their phone is released, will people still be as interested?
"Details? What details?"
Unlike the Windows Phone platform, which has naturally always had support to Microsoft Office Mobile for free, Android and iOS users are going to have to pay for an Office 365 subscription if they want to take advantage of Office on-the-go: $99 for a year, or $9.99 a month. With this subscription you can download Office 365 on up to 5 computers and 5 mobile devices; and by "mobile devices", when it comes to Android and iOS at least, that really just means mobile phones. You can't use Office Mobile on tablets other than Microsoft's own Surface or Windows 8 tablets. This makes sense, given that the main focus of commercials promoting said tablets is to prove how wonderfully productive it is to have Microsoft Office on your tablet (or how it is possible to live your lifelong dream of breaking out randomly into synchronized dancing if you own a Surface Pro). If you give the iPad or Android tablets that luxury, that's taking away the one thing Microsoft has been pushing.
When it comes to the subscription aspect, it's not a bad idea nor is it necessarily surprising. After all, every new subscription for Office 365 that comes through is more money for Microsoft, which means that they could possibly be using said money to help improve Windows Phone. However, since it stands that Office Mobile isn't available for Android and iOS tablets, I don't think Microsoft will see an influx of new Office 365 subscribers because of it. Although it is becoming easier to edit Office documents from the influx of phones that are releasing with larger screens, many can still argue that editing a Power Point or a Word document would be a lot easier and more productive on a true tablet-sized screen.
Another thing that Microsoft Office Mobile has against it is the fact that third-party developers have had ample time to make alternatives for those who have been longing for a proper document editor and viewer for the mobile devices. Not only have several been made, but they've also been able to polish their software to the point that many would prefer to use the alternatives over the new Microsoft Office Mobile. Also, most don't charge a subscription premium.
I used to really want to see Microsoft Office on Android and iOS, but at the time the thought had never crossed my mind that Office would ever take the subscription route. Yes, I expected there to be some sort of fee involved ($9.99, perhaps?) to download the application, but the fact that anybody needs to pay a subscription for this type of service seems bizarre to me.
For people that already use Office 365, Office Mobile makes sense. You don't have to pay anything extra. Just download the application, put in your credentials, and get to editing. But for anybody else, especially for people who use Office passively (and do fine using previous versions of Office) it's likely not that great (or big) of a deal. There are enough alternatives that can A.) function across computer, phone, and tablet and B.) don't cost an extra subscription for a service that a lot of people won't get their money's worth out of.
To be quite honest, though, I don't think it's the subscription that kills this idea; I think Microsoft really shot themselves in the foot by not offering Office 365 on iOS and Android tablets.
Readers, what are your thoughts on Microsoft Office Mobile? Are you interesting in having this on your Android device or iPhone? Why or why not?