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11/7/2012
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Microsoft Office For Android, iOS In The Works

Microsoft may bring limited Office functionality to Android and iOS smartphones and tablets in 2013.

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Microsoft is preparing a new mobile version of Microsoft Office for the Android and iOS platforms. The productivity suite might arrive as soon as March 2013 for iOS and May 2013 for Android.

Reports suggesting that Microsoft would offer Office to platforms that compete with its own Windows Phone have long been in circulation. Today's report comes from The Verge, which claims to have details from several sources close to Microsoft's plans.

Microsoft Office will be made available to Android and iOS devices first as free applications. These free apps, including Word, PowerPoint and Excel, will require a Microsoft account. They will be limited to read-only, meaning Android and iOS device owners won't be able to make changes to the documents, presentations or spreadsheets.

[ Is Microsoft working on an iPad Mini competitor? Microsoft Planning 7-Inch Surface Mini? ]

Android and iOS device owners looking for more functionality will have to purchase a subscription to Microsoft's Office 365 service. Even then, editing functions will be limited to the basics. Corporations will also have the ability to purchase Office 365 subscriptions for employees. According to The Verge's sources, even this expanded functionality won't replace the full desktop version of Microsoft Office.

Earlier this year, Microsoft's Czech Republic subsidiary said Office Mobile would reach Android and iOS during the first quarter of 2013. Microsoft has not commented on The Verge's report.

I haven't used Microsoft Office in more than six years. Google Docs has provided all the word processing, presentation creation and spreadsheet functionality I need. I can use Google Docs on my desktop machines, laptops, tablets and smartphones no matter what OS they run, and it's all free. Google's cloud services are what make Google Docs truly useful. Not having to constantly transfer files from one machine to another has been a time saver and life saver at times.

That's why basic view-only versions of Word, Excel and PowerPoint sound somewhat useless to me. The inability to seamlessly sync the files between machines and form factors (let alone the inability to edit them) renders the idea moot. The Office 365 subscription would be a necessity. There's no word on how much Microsoft might charge Android and iOS device owners to use its cloud services.

On the other hand, these features are all built into Windows Phone 8. Microsoft took care to give WP8 rich editing and syncing capabilities with Office 365, SkyDrive, and its WinRT and Win8 cousins.

Is Microsoft hoping to eke out a bit of profit from its competitors, given their expansive scale compared to its own? Windows Phone has barely broken 2% of the U.S. smartphone market, while Android and iOS together own the lion's share.

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S. Kyle Davis
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S. Kyle Davis,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/7/2012 | 6:34:55 PM
re: Microsoft Office For Android, iOS In The Works
Ok, wow. Way to sidetrack actual news into an opinion piece devoid of any fact or true understanding of Microsoft's existing product line.

Here's how this will probably work, given what we know. This ability to view will likely be worked into the Skydrive apps, much as editing abilities are worked into the Google Drive apps. Like Google Drive, Skydrive offers storage for free (7GB as opposed to Google's 5GB). Like SkyDrive now, the new version will let you edit synced documents using third-party apps.

However, if you want to edit documents using Microsoft's tools, you will need to, you know, purchase the tool. Microsoft isn't an online services company. They're a software company. They don't make money funneling you online so you can view ads. They charge for the tools they provide. Office 365 is Microsoft's new way of offering full Office at an easier-to-pay rate. You subscribe to the software, and then you can get it on your PC, but also have access to web clients and mobile clients (what this report is talking about).

The benefits you get are the ability to edit synced documents from anywhere (like Google Drive) as well as the advanced tools provided in Microsoft Office. You may not need those tools, but I do. I use the advanced tools built into PowerPoint on a daily basis. I've used Google's presentation editing software, and it is minimal at best. The Docs app is much better than it used to be (the collaboration features are great, which is why I still use it for some things). However, it still lacks features like Grammar and style checking (I need this, being an author), and also lacks some graphic editing features that I use regularly for fliers, handouts for my kids' in-home learning, etc.. I'm a happy Office user. I've tried OpenOffice as well as online services, and haven't found the equivalent of MS Office.

If you don't need the tools, that's fine, but don't discount it or talk as if its ridiculous that someone might need it. That's like saying, "I have a core i5 processor and it does everything I need it to. Who would ever pay more for one of those stupid i7s?" As a video editor who uses After Effects regularly, I can attest that's not true. And your statements about Office aren't either.
Nokuchikushi
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Nokuchikushi,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/8/2012 | 4:47:54 AM
re: Microsoft Office For Android, iOS In The Works
I agree. I've been using Google Apps for Domains for many years now and it provides ways of working that are leaps and bounds over Office, since it consolidates all the company's documents in one central location, available worldwide, and makes sharing and collaboration simple. MS Office is never touched. For mobile, we use Quickoffice Pro HD, which allows us to access all of our docs, spreadsheets and presentation files from multiple Google accounts, but also from Dropbox, Box, SugarSync, etc. Going back to MS Office would be a clear regression, not a progression.
rlunetta018
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rlunetta018,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/13/2012 | 4:48:37 PM
re: Microsoft Office For Android, iOS In The Works
Maybe I'm missing something here, but isn't this a lot about nothing. I have had this functionality on my Android phones now for years with Quick Office. Came free on my last phone and I paid a couple of bucks for it on my first Android phone the G1. Nice of Microsoft to join the party, but you are a day late and a dollar short...
Cara Latham
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Cara Latham,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/28/2012 | 4:43:51 PM
re: Microsoft Office For Android, iOS In The Works
While I don't see much of a need for an office platform given Google Drive and Quick Office, but I think Microsoft Office would add more flexibility for more complex functions.
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