A hands-on look at Microsoft Office for the iPhone

A hands-on look at Microsoft Office for the iPhone

Summary: At long last, Microsoft has released a version of its Office suite for iOS. The new app targets the iPhone and closely resembles the Office app that’s built into Windows Phone 8. Here's what you'll find in the new app, which is available from the App Store immediately.


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  • A quick setup

    When you install Office Mobile on an iPhone, you go through a quick setup process that closely resembles setup for the desktop apps.

  • System requirements for Office Mobile

    The Office Mobile app requires an iPhone 4 or later (or an iPod Touch Fifth generation), running iOS 6.1 or later. This version of Office Mobile was specifically designed for the small screen sizes of an iPhone; Microsoft declined to comment about its plans for an iPad-specific version. For now at least, the company recommends that iPad users stick with the Office Web Apps.

  • Office Mobile requires an Office 365 subscription

    The new Office Mobile app is free, although that slender price tag comes with a catch: You need an Office 365 subscription to activate the software. (If you don’t have an Office 365 subscription, you can sign up for a free trial on the Web or use the in-app purchase option in the Office Mobile app.) Any Office 365 subscription plan that includes the Office 2013 software will allow you to install and activate Office Mobile on up to five iOS devices.

Topics: Collaboration, Apple, Cloud, iPhone, Microsoft, Software

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  • Looks like a good start...

    It will be interesting to see how good it is at maintaining formatting information between platforms. If it breaks formatting, then it is pretty useless, unless you are working on the simplest of documents

    I'll also be interested to see how well it does with complex presentations with animations - I have dozens of stacks with hundreds of animation points per slide, at the last show, it was a pain having to create static PDF versions of the slides for the iPads (each PP slide ended up being 6 or 7 pages in a PDF).
    • Re: unless you are working on the simplest of documents

      This is an interesting development. So if an piece of Microsoft software is not working properly, it is still good "for simplest of documents". But when an non-Microsoft software, such as Pages does not follow all Microsoft quirks, it is bad.
      • Not quite

        I'd guess the difference is Microsoft's product preserves presentation in the saved document, whereas Pages doesn't.

        But apart from that, totally the same.
      • Not at all

        The question is, what do you need?

        For "simple" documents, those without very complex formatting, ToCs, indexes etc. most of the MS Office alternatives are good enough that, apart from the odd pagination issue, they can open files and allow you to work with them.

        As I haven't seen the iOS version of Office 365 in action, I can't say whether it is a suitable solution for the documents I work on, which is why I said it is a good start, that it is now available on iOS. Whether it is usable with the sorts of documents I use is another question, that can only be tested once I have tried it out.
    • Good Start?

      Wow. Huh?
      Why the heck would I want a half or less featured minimal subscription implementation on my small screened iPhone?.
      Using bought and paid for NON-SUBSCRIPTION apps on my Android I can do 95% of what I need at the phone level.
      Someone at MS has not really thought this through.
      • And some people...

        need full MS Office compatibility. If you need to proof or work on complex MS Office documents, there is little choice.

        None of the alternatives that I've tried manage to preserve the formatting they don't understand, let alone display the documents properly - even the desktop equivalents, such as Open Office or Libre Office.

        If you don't need to share documents with MS Office users, then you have a lot of very good alternatives out there, if you need to share with MS Office users, you have very limited choices.
  • Your website

    can you fix your site so that its easier to see pictures. Right now, every time you move from one picture to another the whole page refreshes. I am sure you can copy the sourcecode off facebook or someone so that its a much smoother and quicker viewing experience.
    • Your Clunky web site

      I totally agree with this comment... how can ZDNet profess to be a cutting edge web based media platform with such poor, poor means of presenting images with their agonisingly slow ka-lunk ka-lunk photo presentation - c'mon boys time to update dat code and get somewhat snappier withsumthin' better like pop up photos in slideshow format - we haven't got all day! I'd also be happier to slide down lengthy scrolling windows for content than have to wait yet again to be transferred through a link to yet another page to get the next wee bit of the story (evidently to get max ad exposure) but think about us the frustrated users. NYT gets it right with a single page button to click to see whole article. But then, maybe ZDNet doesn't 'profess' anything of the kind!
    • Agreed

      The slideshows on Wired's site are the same way. Ironic, isn't it?
  • So long Surface RT....

    ...we hardly missed you, if at all... one of your proud parents (Microsoft's Office Division) has realized you were "such a drag" and that they were more comfortable creating sensible Office apps for iOS and Android, rather than deal with your complex and immature WinRT API.

    At the office (the real one), we will miss you, as some of us had the opportunity of having a tablet that had Office, until we realized that real tablets are for fun, not work.

    Between the clunky way you held a Surface, to the need to put it on a table to "work", to the lagging performance of "Cut the Rope", I guess we need Office was coming to the iPad to reassure us that we can do "some" work on iOS at least if we don't take ourselves seriously.
    • Sensible apps for iOS and Android?

      This is a joke app that has fewer features than the old Windows Mobile version.

      How is this a sensible app?
      Michael Alan Goff
      • yeah

        As if you have tested it. pffttt...
  • 30% cut

    I guess Microsoft didn't want to waste any opportunity to make a sale, but I can't imagine many users will want to buy in this environment.
    Larry Seltzer
    • I have a feeling that most people who use the app won't make their

      original purchase through the app. It's basically free for anyone who already has office 365, I could see mostly those people using it. It would be insane to buy and office 365 subscription just for the iOS office app.
      Sam Wagner
  • Why not iPad?

    Will not install on iPad2 (and maybe others) because it does not have an autofocus camera. What is the relevancy?
    David Harrier
    • Might be

      Perhaps this is what Microsoft discovered about the iPad2 and used it to check as to avoid it being used there. The iPad2 is pretty much the same hardware-wise as the iPhone 4S.
    • Good question.

      I don't remember ever using a camera with Office on the desktop.
      Probably some NSA requirement. ;)
    • From what I've read

      they want people of use the office web apps on larger tablets. I have no experience using office web apps on an iPad, so I have no idea how well that works though.
      Sam Wagner
    • iPad has a smaller userbase then the iPhone

      If you're going to create and support something like this, go with the business segment that has the larger installed user base, which would be iPhone.

      Once any kinks are smoothed out, move onto the next device.
      William Farrel
      • Yet WP7, and WP8 combined

        Are around 10% to 14% the user base of the iPad 2. So it seems more like a failure on Microsoft's part to properly make the app scalable. Three different screen sizes is just too much.
        Troll Hunter J