MS Office is one of the most widely used productivity applications worldwide. Word, Excel, Powerpoint etc are an integral part of our lives. However, Microsoft Office remains exclusive to Macs and Windows products (including Windows Phone). And since quite some time, we’ve been hearing rumors of the Microsoft Office app making its way to Android and iOS too. The only mobile app of Office that we see is the one on Windows Phones, and that’s pretty good on its own. So it’s about time, many thought, for Microsoft to roll out the app on a much wider scale to tablets and smartphones.
And now it seems like the day is getting closer, as The Verge has accessed a few screenshots of the said app running on iOS. The screenshots look pretty authentic and there’s no photoshop trickery involved. Interestingly, Microsoft is said to roll out the iOS version first followed by Android. An MS official apparently claimed that the iOS release of the app suite is slated for March 2013, which is four months from now. Android would follow in May 2013, it is believed. Not sure if Microsoft is intentionally making iOS and Android users wait, but it seems to be taking awfully long for MS to roll out the app. I don’t see the point of waiting that long when there is plenty of demand for the product, but well that’s how Microsoft wants to deal with it. The mobile version of MS Office will be made available for free, apparently.
Speaking of the screenshots in question, they do look pretty simplistic and intuitive although they do not reveal much. The app would require the user to sign into a Microsoft account to be able to view documents. The user will have to get an Office 365 subscription to be able to edit documents. Seemingly, Microsoft would want to keep a tight leash on Office for iOS/Android users, which explains the sign-in and subscription process. iOS users will have the privilege to purchase the Office 365 subscription while within the app, claims the source. It is stressed that Microsoft has no plans to endorse this as a replacement to the full desktop version of the Office, and this will still have to be treated as the mobile version of MS Office. Regardless, Microsoft Office on Android and iOS is a welcome addition and basic functionality too will be good enough for the regular user. You might be better off with the tablet version though if you plan on typing long documents or making adjustments to an Excel sheet.
Thanks to The Verge’s insider sources, we now have an idea as to what Microsoft has in store for us. Microsoft has obviously confirmed the existence of the app, albeit indirectly. So come Feb-March 2013 and we’ll know what’s in it and what’s not. Sadly, Android users will have to wait until May to get a taste of Office Mobile. Microsoft’s very own Surface RT tablet comes with Office Home and Student 2013 RT Preview which is miles ahead of what Microsoft is planning to offer with its Android/iOS app, and Microsoft would want to keep it that way for obvious reasons.