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

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.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

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).

Editorial standards