Microsoft Unveils Free Office Suite for iPad, iPhone, and Android

Published on November 25, 2014

Microsoft is up to some exciting things recently. Not only did they strategically team up with Dropbox, they have now officially announced that their Office suite is free for iPad, iPhone, and Android.

Yep. 100% free.

This pleasant surprise offers Word, Excel, and Powerpoint apps completely free of charge and without need of an Office 365 subscription to create, edit, and store all forms of documents in the cloud.

A new iPhone app is now released featuring Office complete with optimized integration with Dropbox.

But...a free Office suite? Really?

This move does seem a little absurd (or desperate?) on the surface. The company, however, says it is simply strategy. Microsoft's head of Office marketing, Michael, Atalla was recently quoted in The Verge, explaining the decision:

"It’s an extension of the strategy that we’ve got. It’s not a total strategic shift, as much of an extension of the existing strategy. We’re taking that same user experience we provide online to the native apps of iOS and Android. We want to make sure that our customers can be productive across all the devices they have."

Atalla is, of course, referring to the preexisting Office apps available for free online - a free service which they want to make available on mobile devices.

Note that businesses don't have it as good as the consumer. Microsoft isn't extending free functionality to businesses. An Office 365 subscription is required for documents stored on OneDrive for Business or Dropbox. Subscription-based value is maintained with premium-only features (like chart element customization and track changes). We imagine this is where they hope to focus monetization.

What is driving this strategic move?

Is this move really only out of desire to make their service easier to clients? Not entirely. Free 3rd party cloud-based document apps like CloudOn and Paper iPad are only the tip of the iceberg that Microsoft is trying to avoid at all costs. They want to remain the frontrunners instead of gradually losing their valuable client base to other free apps.

Defensive move or not, we're pleased to have access to this great platform at our fingertips.

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