Microsoft Unveils New Free Office Apps for iOS

When I first got my iPad a few months back, one of the immediate limitations I ran across was the lack of ability to edit Word and Excel files without a rather-costly $99 Office365 subscription. In fact, this was enough for me to abandon the Office apps all-together, as they took up quite a bit of real estate on my 32GB device for a “read-only” suite. 

Today, though, Office apps are getting a re-download: Microsoft has just announced they will be granting users the ability to edit docs for free; no subscription required.

The move comes as Microsoft is obviously worried about losing marketshare to free applications like LinkedIn’s SlideShare, Evernote, Smartsheet– and, of course, the Google Docs suite of office-like products. By making their Office iOS apps free to use, the company is looking to keep customers loyal to their products, regardless of what platform they are on.

In the same spirit, Microsoft also unveiled plans today for Android users to get the full Office experience as well. While the Android versions of Office won’t be available publicly until 2015, you can sign up to be part of a trial program here.

While I’m sure those who signed up for Office365 will be a bit miffed by this announcement, Microsoft did say that some advanced features, such as the ability to accept or reject tracked changes in Word, would still be available only to paid subscribers.

Personally, I like the idea of Microsoft Office apps for iOS; though, since the ability to edit & save docs has been limited until now, I can’t say whether I’ll get a ton of use out of them just yet.

How about you– are you planning on taking advantage of free Office apps on your iPhone or iPad?