Microsoft rolls out Office Mobile for iPhone

Microsoft is rolling out a small-screen optimized version of Word, Excel and PowerPoint for iPhone users who subscribe to Office 365.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

Microsoft is making a mobile version of its Word, Excel and PowerPoint products available for iPhone users via its Office 365 subscription plan.

The roll-out begins starting June 14 in the U.S., with additional availability in 135 additional markets and 29 languages to follow next week. The Office Mobile for iPhone suite is available in the Apple app store.

The Office Mobile for iPhone suite is very much like the Office Mobile suite that Microsoft preloads on Windows Phone, meaning it is optimized for the editing, viewing and creation of Word and Excel documents. (Microsoft has offered OneNote for the iPhone since 2011.) While the new Office Mobile for iPhone suite can be used at 2X resolution on iPads, it is not optimized for that platform, Microsoft officials said.

"This is very much optimized for small screens," said Chris Schneider, Marketing Manager with Microsoft's Office Division. He said Microsoft's guidance for users who want Microsoft Office on the iPad remains that they should use Office Web Apps — the versions of Word, Excel and PowerPoint that Microsoft has optimized for use in a variety of Web browsers.

Check out Ed Bott's hands-on gallery of the new Office for iPhone suite

Current and future Office 365 subscribers will be able to get Office Mobile for iPhone for use on up to five iPhones for free. These five devices won't count against the five-device usage rights that Office 365 subscribers currently have with Office 365 plans that include Office client access. In other words, if you are an Office 365 subscriber, you can use Office 2013 or Office for Mac 2011 on a combination of five PCs and Macs plus Office for iPhone on five iPhones. (Office Mobile on Windows Phone doesn't count against Office 365 subscription limits.)

There was a Microsoft roadmap floating around earlier this year that indicated Microsoft did not plan to offer Office on iOS until the second half of 2014. The roadmap didn't specify whether that meant Office on iPad or iPhone.

I am not sure if today's announcement indicates acceleration of Microsoft's plans on that front (or if the roadmap I saw was outdated). I still believe Microsoft's Office team is also going to deliver some kind of Office for iPad product that most likely will also be tied to an Office 365 subscription. But no one from Microsoft is saying publicly that this is the plan. 

Office Mobile for iPhone works on iPhone 4, 4s or 5 and iPod Touch Fifth Generation. Devices must be running iOS 6.1 or higher.

The Office 365 subscription plans which include Office Mobile support include Office 365 Home Premium, Office 365 Small Business Premium, Office 365 Midsize Business, Office 365 Enterprise E3 and E4, Office 365 Education A3 and A4, Office 365 ProPlus, and Office 365 University. There are also some government plans that offer Office Mobile for iPhone, according to Microsoft. Note that the University plans are limited to two iPhones per user, not five like the others.

Office 365 trial subscriptions also will activate Office Mobile.

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