Microsoft Office for iOS, Android to have Office 365 subscription tie-in: Report

Microsoft Office for iOS, Android to have Office 365 subscription tie-in: Report

Summary: The rumors of Microsoft porting Office to iOS and Android continue to rage. And there could be an Office 365 subscription connection if a new report is correct.


Ever since word (and alleged screenshots) of Office for the iPad and Android leaked earlier this year, Microsoft officials have gone into no comment and semi-denial mode.


On November 7, The Verge posted what it is claiming to be new and updated screen shots of what it's calling "Office Mobile" for iOS and Android. According to the report, Microsoft could launch Office for iOS and Android as of early 2013.

As a number of us Microsoft watchers have been speculating in recent months, at least the entry-level versions of iOS and Android versions of Office are not "full" Office, if the Verge's new information is correct. Instead, there will be free Web-based clients -- very similar to the current Office Web Apps that Microsoft already offers across a variety of platforms and browsers. To obtain full functionality, according to the Verge, users will have to subscribe to Office 365.

Update: Windows SuperSite's Paul Thurrott had heard similar scuttlebutt about Office for iOS/Android and the Office 365 subscription connection from one of his sources earlier this fall.

This push toward subscriptions fits in with where Microsoft's strategy for Office. The centerpiece of the New Office -- a k a Office 15/Office 2013 -- is the move to subscription pricing and packages. There will be subscription versions of Office for home and small business users that offer a year of Office "usage" on up to five Macs and PCs in total. Currently, iOS-based and Android-based devices are not part of the set of devices that are covered by the new Office 365 subscription licenses.

It's unclear from today's Verge report if Microsoft will be enabling full, locally installable versions of Office for iOS and Android as part of the alleged subscription program. That is the way it works on the Windows side of the house via the new "household license." A subscription to Office 365 Home Premium, for example, simply means users can download Office for use on up to five PCs/Macs. 

If Microsoft does, indeed, go the subscription route with Office for iOS and Android, it will be interesting to see how Redmond prices it. Office 365 Home Premium costs $8.33 per month for use on up to five devices. Office 365 Small Business Premium goes for $12.50 per user per month (with the same "up to five devices" coverage).

Would you be interested in renting Office for your iPad or Android device if that's the way Microsoft ends up going?

Update No. 2: Xamarin's Miguel de Icaza brought up a good question on Twitter about all this. Will Microsoft actually make Office truly touch-optimized if and when it releases the alleged iOS and Android versions? Office on Windows 8 and Windows RT is only limitedly touch-optimized and is still actually a desktop -- not a Windows Store style application (other than OneNote and Lync, which are available in Windows Store form).

Topics: Collaboration, Android, iOS, Microsoft, Windows


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • Apple should not allow

    Office in the store until they make sure that Microsoft hasn't put in lots and lots of NOOPS in the code to make their machine look slow like they did the last time!
    Tony Burzio
    • fix iOS

      If NOOPS is a problem and they are aware that it is, then they should fix their OS so that NOOPS is no longer a problem.
    • iOS is already slow

      I hate it when people say that iOS is the fastest mobile OS and it is "rock solid". I have personal experience with an iPhone 4 and I am telling you, at first it is extremely fast and stable but when you use it for several months, the software has the potential to turn to complete crap. I updated my iPhone (yes I still have one) to iOS 6 a month ago and I noticed the definite slowdown of the firmware. Apps kept crashing constantly, especially Safari. Every single day Safari crashed on me even when I was just reading a simple tech article. The home button is getting less responsive as the days go by and I am starting to notice lag when I swipe between apps on the homescreen. All my apps were closed too when my iPhone under performed for me.

      I actually know how it is to use iOS and it is NOT always a "rock solid", and stable OS. However this might not have occurred for other people so that's why I said at the beginning "the software has the *potential* to turn to complete crap".

      I gave my dad a SGS2 and he doesn't even do anything on it and yet there is great lag on it. It doesn't crash as frequently as my iPhone though fortunately.

      Windows Phone 7.5 is the only mobile OS I have used where I have seen the least amount of lag. You can have multiple applications open and still have a smooth experience in an app unlike my iPhone. And the animations are actually visually appealing.

      Blackberry also is a really fast and good mobile OS. I had no problems on that either back when I had one.

      So iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Blackberry, etc. all are fast and stable OSs. But all have the potential to become crap, even Windows Phone and Blackberry.

      So Office on the iPad is the least of Apple's worries. If anything, they should be happy because 30% of those millions of potential purchases will go to them.
      Free From Apple
      • Your false representation is just a lie

        I've used iOS for the last year (on an iPod Touch), and the last 9 months (iPhone 4s), and neither one is slower than the day I got them. I got the iPhone after going through two of the crappiest phones I've ever had the displeasure of owning. The two phones were Nokia Lumia 900s. The first one fell over on my kitchen table and the screen cracked (maybe they didn't use enough glue to hold th battery in place, because the screen cracked. The replacement phone had the purple hue to it, Which apparently Nokia, and Microsoft, issued a software update to fix. But It was two months afer I returned the phone. I was not going top drive to the AT&T store every other day and hope the phone didn't start having the issue. The only reason to have one person go through 9 phones looking for one that didn't have the issue from the get go, is to pump up the number of phones shipped. I feel stupid for being counted as two of their marketshare numbers, even though I returned both phones, ab=nd will not buy one anytime soon.
        Troll Hunter J
        • Where's the edit button?

          " I returned both phones, ab=nd will not buy one anytime soon." should be "I returned both phones, and will not buy one anytime soon."
          But the second rate Windows based talkback software doesn't allow for editing. Mot of the Linux based talkback software allows efits, while the Windows based crap doesn't.
          Troll Hunter J
          • Your false representation is just a lie

            How exactly is this a false representation? I honestly wish it was because iOS is a pleasant design, but MY experiences with iOS 6 was anything but pleasant. And if you actually read what I wrote, I said ..."the software has the potential to turn to complete crap.". And I furthermore said

            "So iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Blackberry, etc. all are fast and stable OSs. But all have the potential to become crap, even Windows Phone and Blackberry."

            Notice the keyword is potential. I stated that I knew other might not have experienced this so I said "potential". Windows Phone has the potential to be the worst OS ever. Blackberry also has that potential and so does iOS and Android and even, yes even, Symbian.

            If you think that my "false representation" is a lie, I could very well say that your claims of owning a Nokia Lumia 900 are lies too. And the purple appearing on cameras happen on my iOS 6 iPhone 4, and other phones as well, not only Windows Phones.

            Notice I criticized all the major mobile OSs didn't promote anyone over another. Windows Phone is not better than iOS and iOS is not better than Android and Android is not better than Blackberry and vice versa.

            But once I read "Windows based crap", you lost all credibility and I realized I fell into the troll trap. I was the unfortunate victim to fall for the troll.
            Free From Apple
      • With your username do we think there is a bias?

        No OS is perfect and when running the latest version on hardware over two years old you are going to see it lag versus the latest hardware. Of course your experience is the complete opposite as my son's and several other people I know that are running iOS6 on the iPhone 4 without any of the issues you claim to have.
  • 365 Tie In is Brilliant

    Now we see where the 5 license setup can work for an individual...Have office on a desktop, phone, and tablet (doesn't matter what device).

    It also gives a slight incentive to be a Microsoft product user since the Surface RT and Windows Phone have free use of these apps.
    • Subscription based editing?

      No thx.
      I'll stick with alternatives.
      When I really need Office, I'll use my notebook.
      Especially since I also heavily use Visio and Project.
      • Your notebook may be subscription based as well before too long.

        Everybody else is selling cloud-based services to consumers. Why not Microsoft?
        M Wagner
  • Pay and pay and pay

    As has been pointed out repeatedly, this move to SaaS by MS (and Adobe and others) is nothing but a way to make us pay more for software. The traditional way of obtaining software is on the way out. No longer will you be able to purchase a package one time and use it until you no longer have computers to support it. Now, you'll start paying a monthly fee that will go on forever and ever and ever. Want to bet that the fee won't increase -- the justification being that they've added "new features?" Whether or not you use them or want them?

    How unfortunate that people will look at a monthly fee of around $10 and say "Wow! That's much cheaper than a purchase price of a couple hundred!" But in two years, you've paid more than the purchase price and will continue. I'm still using Office 2007 because it does all I need and I don't need any new bells and whistles.

    What about all those people who are still using Windows XP? How much would they have paid by now under a subscription plan?

    And don't get me started on the app store concept, another way to foist increased costs on us.

    No thank you to SaaS.

    Have a nice day,

    • Agree!

      The SaaS model was designed to create a steady, predictable income stream from a widely varying release cycle. There is no real benefit to a user who doesn't buy every upgrade, which is most of us. SaaS a very one-sided arrangement meant to make investors happier.
      • BillDem, what about the AsuO model?

        I think you can determine what that stands for. Apple builds an ipod or ipad, purposely leaving off features, then around 3 times a year they upgrade them with more features.
        Apple users can't resist, they will buy every version and Apple knows that.
        Now really, here is a landfill issue, the kind of issue you should really be talking about SaaS is just software, it doesn't harm the environment? come on.
        I kind of agree with you, but I think you have to determine what the terms are before you make the call, don't you? I don't see the point in preemptively declaring Microsoft's SaaS model will be something you are imagining it might be, before you even see what it is?
        Maybe we should wait until we have pricing then compare against the buy it model. You know, if you buy it, you still have it even when it's really really really outdated and it will just remind you of bad decisions you made at that point in your life. Might as well stay up to date.
        • And your Idols do worse

          They create artificial incompatibilities into software to force the sale of their over-priced software. The intentional forced changes to file formats is only to force the sale of "Upgrades", at high prices. The "Subscription model" is especially evil. You pay a flat fee upfront, with a monthly fee, that is subject to a one-sided agreement. Microsoft can raise the price whenever they want, with no recourse from the user. Microsoft can also say "If you choose to not use Windows, you will be charged a higher fee, for a crippled version. That is a sign of Monopoly abuse, but you'll see that happen a long time before the U.S. Government gets involved, as Achmed is to busy preparing America, for the transition to a Totalitarian Dictatorship.
          Troll Hunter J
          • Achmed?

            I thought his name was Steve Ballmer!
        • 3 times a year????

          With the exception of the iPad with Retina Display (iPad4) Apple only performs routine annual hardware refreshes. I think the reason they pushed the iPad4 out is because they want to lump it into their computer refresh cycle and couldn't leave the iPad3 out for 18 months.
          Where do you get around 3 times a year...unless you are referring to their various product refreshes, which fall into the spring (iPhone), late summer (iPod), and fall (Computers)?
          In fact 2013 will likely only see two release cycles with the iPhone being collapsed into the iPod cycle.
          • Please don't feed the trolls!

            xuniL_z is a well-known rabid Apple hater and worshipper of anything Microsoft, who doesn't bother with facts in his rants.

            He conveniently ignores the fact that no matter how many models Apple releases in a year, people are not OBLIGED to buy them; however, with subscription software you pay, and pay, and pay... ad infinitum.
          • He is obviously clueless

            because he follows the talking point that every Apple product user buys every version that is released without question and throws away the old device. Of course those that live by talking points are usually clueless as they can't think for themselves.

            As far as the authors question about renting Office for my iPad, most certainly not when I have Pages and Numbers ($9.99 each one time charge) that serve me well and allow me to work with Office documents when need be.
      • agreed

        This is nothing but some genius's bright idea to create an ever perpetual automated stream of revenue. The lazy Apple people and others who care not to think about it will trend and hop on board like its the greatest thing since Ben and Jerry's and Starbucks.

        The rest of us thinking people will save our copies of office 07 etc and take a pass and not buy shareholders more Bentleys.
    • Yes and No

      While I agree that often SaaS is a revenue ploy that negatively affects the consumer, the way MS has set this up may actually be pretty handy. Because I can get Office on 5 machines with one subscription, I could be saving lots of cash. I currently have two PC's that I use, and I use Office on both. That takes the 1.5 year payout for a single license to 3 years for the two required licenses. If I can then add my tablet, my phone, and my wife's phone all for free, the payout gets even longer.

      Plus, remember that the subscription option for Office includes more software than what the Office Home & Student license will.

      Does MS want to make money? Yes. Is SaaS right for everyone? No. Is it right for some people? Yup.