A free Microsoft office app for iPhone and iPad is one of the most eagerly anticipated apps of the year. Microsoft have obliged with the release of Office Mobile, which is free to download but you must be a subscriber to the new Office 365 package to be able to utilise the app. Using the app enables you to access, view and edit your Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel and Microsoft PowerPoint documents from your iPhone or iPad anywhere you have an Internet connection.
Once you have logged into the app then you can access MS Office documents that are stored on the cloud drives SkyDrive, SkyDrive Pro, or SharePoint. Recent documents viewed on your PC can also be accessed via the cloud connection and you can also view Office documents attached to emails.
The interface allows you to produce good looking documents incorporating charts, animations, SmartArt Graphics, and shapes. The layout and interface of Word, Excel and Powerpoint have been optimised for devices and the formatting remains intact when you edit your documents on your mobile device.
It is a very useful bit of software but you really get the feeling that Microsoft has cut too many Office users out of the equation by limiting use to users of Office 365 only. The fact that you have to have the $90 annual subscription before you can use this “free” app will inevitably push many users into going for the cheaper Apple iWork alternatives or free Office alternatives such as Cloud On.
- Easy to access and edit documents over the cloud
- Edit documents offline which are then synced over the cloud when connected to the Internet
- Layout optimised for a mobile device
- Majority of main Office features included
- Only accessible to subscribers of Office 365
- Only access documents from a limited number of cloud drives
The long-awaited Office app from Microsoft is really a big disappointment. This is not so much due to the quality of app, which is extremly functional and enables people to access and edit their Office documents on their iOS device, but more due to the fact that it is only open to a very small proportion of MS Office users who will be more inclined to go for cheaper or free alternatives to MS Office on their iPhone or iPad rather than become an Office 365 subscriber simply to use the free app. Microsoft you have missed a trick and it is a shame.