Microsoft Office for iOS and Android coming in early 2013: Report

For the past year there have been many rumors suggesting a version of Microsoft Office for iOS and Android. The first rumor came from Newscorp’s The Daily which had actually posted a screen shot of the app running on an iPad, then an European branch of Microsoft sent out a press release saying that Office for iOS and Android was coming in March 2013. Of course, in typical Microsoft fashion the company dismissed all this as rumor and conjecture. But here we are again, as The Verge claims that a version of Microsoft Office is indeed heading towards iOS and Android in early 2013.

Precisely, the report states that the iOS version will come in late February or early March, followed by a version for Android in May. The report has posted a number of screenshots of the app and Microsoft will call it Office Mobile. The jargon suggests that it will be similar to its Windows Phone counterpart rather than the full version of Office that ships with Windows RT. Additionally, it will be available as a free app that will allow Android and iOS users to view Office documents on the fly, though users will need a Microsoft account similar to the way they need it for SkyDrive and OneNote.

The package will include Word, Excel and Powerpoint and editing functionality will only be enabled through an Office 365 subscription. The report states that users will be able to purchase an Office 365 subscription directly off the mobile app and it will also let organizations to distribute codes to enable Office Mobile for using the editing features.

If true, then this is indeed a very clever strategy on Microsoft’s part as it avoids paying Apple the 30 percent cut for the app by keeping it free on the app store and it only unlocks features via a Microsoft Office 365 subscription.

In comparison if one takes a look at other Office and productivity apps available on the App store, then Apple clearly sells its versions of Pages, Keynote and Numbers for Rs 550 a pop and Documents To Go costs Rs 550. On the other hand, the Home Premium subscription of Office 365 will cost $8.33 (approx. Rs 452) for a monthly subscription, but this includes the ability use full Office apps on five PCs/Macs, 60 minutes of free Skype calling per month, 20GB of SkyDrive storage and an ‘Office on demand’ feature that will allow an user to stream a native copy of Office on any Windows 7 or Windows 8 PC.

Currently it is not known if Microsoft will just add the Office Mobile bit to the currently known Office 365 subscription plans or it may create a new subscription plan for Office Mobile. It may even end up doing both, but nonetheless it will be an enticing feature and Microsoft will not be sharing the profits with Apple.

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