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  (Source: Microsoft)
Office 365, subscription is required and there's no support for tablets

Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) has been pushing hard to drum up support for its Office 365 suite of cloud-connected productivity products.  The service costs $9.99 USD per month or $99.99 USD per year.  Ultimately that's a pretty good profit opportunity for Microsoft, given that a full-blown Office suite costs around $100-140 USD at its cheapest for basic personal computer editions.  

Microsoft is justifying the relatively high subscription fees with the perk of universal access -- having your data stored on the cloud and accessible anywhere.  While Windows 8.1 is expected to offer identical functionality in the standard Office applications via the ability to save to SkyDrive, the other upside to this location-agnostic access is that it essentially acts like an unlimited floating license for home users (where as standard Office is limited to a small number of PCs, sometimes just one).

Until June, the only people who could access Office on the go were Windows Phone users (Windows Phones come preloaded with free lightweight Office mobile clients).  In June Microsoft added "Office Mobile" to Apple, Inc.'s (AAPL) App Store.  

Office Mobile Android Office Mobile Android Office Mobile Android

Available on iPads and iPhones, the app has drawn pretty poor reviews, earning just 2.5/5 stars from the Apple legion.  Criticisms include:
  • Office 365 subscription is required, although app is free
  • The lack of a dedicated tablet (iPad) layout
  • No undo/redo options
  • No ability to edit/insert images into documents (except in One Note)
  • No chart editing/insertion functionality
Now Microsoft has launched another version of the Office Mobile app for Google, Inc.'s (GOOG) Play Store.  The Android version has thus far drawn 3.5/5 stars, a slightly warmer reception than the app for Apple saw.  The criticism for the Android app echoes the Apple one, though:

Reviews of Office Mobile for Android
  • No tablet support
  • Crashes
  • Won't open many DOCX/PPTX/etc. files
  • No support for password-protected files
  • Text formatting options missing from some apps
Some enterprise device buyers have previously cited Office Mobile as a reason to switch to Windows Phone.  Despite the criticism of the product, losing exclusivity is clearly a bit of a blow for Windows Phone.  That said, it does add more value to an Office 365 subscription.  In (calendar) Q2 2013 Microsoft saw $1.5B USD in Office 365 revenue, indicating around 50-60 million users.

Office for Android  iPhone Office Mobile

On Android devices the primary competition is the (free) Google Drive, while on i-devices there's Apple's $9.99 (each) iWork apps (e.g. PagesNumbers, and Keynote).  Other popular mobile documents apps include KingsoftQuickofficeDocuments to Go, and OfficeSuite.  Ironically, these third-party solutions have many of the features that Office Mobile users are griping about the lack of (e.g. the ability to insert charts in a spreadsheet).

Sources: Google Play, Microsoft, Apple iTunes



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RE: Facepalm Microsoft...
By GulWestfale on 7/31/2013 10:28:32 PM , Rating: 2
i write books and only need MS word compatibility to do that. i do actually write things on my phone (with a bluetooth keyboard), and i write and save them in the free kingsoft office app. it's more than enough for what i need it for, and i don't need something as fancy-sounding as cloud access to email myself a copy of what i wrote, or to transfer it onto my desktop via a simple USB cable when i get home.

sure, there are corporations who need their roadwarriors to have access to the "real" MS office, with all its features; but i would think that especially on android this represents a minority of people. those who really depend on office to get the job done already have a laptop or ultrabook 9and i hear 5 or 6 people actually bought a surface tablet, good for them!).

for everyone else, free solutions like kingsoft office are going to be good enough. and by the way, 10 bucks a month for a program that costs 100 bucks is a lot. over several years of use you're paying much more than what you would have paid for a desktop version... here's an idea, MS: why don't you simply package the desktop version with a free mobile client app?


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