New version offers full Office on touch-driven ARM devices like Windows 10 smartphones and tablets

Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) added another good reason to join the growing legion of Windows 10 Preview testers.  Late last week it unveiled the availability of preview versions of its upcoming Office 2016 Word, Excel, and Powerpoint apps.

The apps are full-blown Office clients, but their UI resembles that of the limited mobile client builds of Office 365 available for Apple, Inc.'s (AAPL) iOS (iPad, iPhone) and the Google Inc.'s (GOOG) Android.  That's likely because Microsoft is for the first time bringing full-fledged office to its ARM devices, courtesy of its Universal Apps program.

If you have Windows 10 Preview, you can snage the test builds of the new Office apps via the Windows Store, or via these links:
Windows 10 Office 2016 -- Word Windows 10 Office 2016 -- Excel
Windows 10 Office 2016 -- PowerPoint
  • Outlook Preview (coming soon)
Windows 10 Office 2016 -- Outlook
  • OneNote Preview (coming soon)
Windows 10 Office 2016 -- OneNote

Initially the apps will only be available for desktop version, but similarly styled variants for Windows 10 on the tablet and smartphone will roll out in "coming weeks."  These apps will feature a tweaked UI and input style for their target device, but will offer the same core code and feature list as the traditional PC client, unlike past mobile builds of Office.

The new Office 2016 apps follow the freemium model.  They will be avaiable for free to all Windows 10 users, but will have some features locked.  To unlock more advanced features, you'll have to pay to be a susbcriber of Office 365.

It looks likely that Microsoft will finally do away with the option to purchase a standalone Office SKU separate to Office 365.  Under the new consolidated offerings there will to offerings -- the free client and the premium client for Office 365 subscribers.

Microsoft will also be offering Office 365 subscribers unlimited free OneDrive storage, starting later this year.  Microsoft is the first cloud service provider to offer such an option to individual consumers.  It also has expanded its offering of free Office 365 to college students, to get them hooked early in their careers.

Source: Microsoft [Office blog]

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