Last week Microsoft released a limited set of Office products–PowerPoint, Excel, and Word–for free. Weirdly, it’s currently only for iPad and iPhone. Before, a subscription to Office 365 was necessary to operate Office on these platforms, but now you can view, edit, and create accessible documents with these free apps.
This is big news for Microsoft, since Office has never been available for free but is required for everything. Most computers, whether it’s in an office or a school building, have the Microsoft Office Suite, and without a subscription, documents can’t be opened or edited. These apps give the Office Suite the accessibility it has never had. Most of us have struggled with saving something in Word at the office or school, only to download the document and find out you can’t open it. Now, Microsoft Office doesn’t require saving in compatibility mode to let your coworkers using OpenOffice a chance at reviewing your work.
Considering the free word-processing products available to us to substitute for Office, Microsoft giving us these apps for free makes sense (albeit belated). Of course, none of the fancy capabilities of Office will be available for free. However, it’ll definitely help when you’re on the Metro and need to prepare for that big presentation. The only downside is you’ll need a subscription to link up OneDrive and Dropbox to Office, which will keep corporations paying for their subscriptions. Need to format columns and chart edit in Excel? An Office 365 subscription is now only $10 a month, rather than the $200 for the disk and the regret when Microsoft makes a new Office Suite in two years.
And don’t worry, Microsoft didn’t forget Android. It will be here soon. Beta access is currently available. You can download the PowerPoint, Excel, and Word for the iPhone and iPad, or sign up for the Android preview.