Microsoft has now launched an app version of its ubiquitous Office productivity suite on the Android platform Google Play.
And, although it is listed as being free and offering users the ability to view Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents, in order to get the most out of the app, downloaders will also need to sign up to Microsoft’s cloud-based Office 365 subscription program.
The new app is essentially identical to the version that landed in the Apple App Store on June 14, and although it will scale up to work on a tablet, Microsoft has optimized it for smaller screens, recommending that Android tablet owners instead make do with the suite of Office web apps that are accessible via an internet browser.
A full-priced (i.e., one without a student or teacher discount) Office 365 subscription currently retails for $99.99 a year. But, for that fee, users will be able to not just read, but create, edit and save a host of different Office file types and sync them with SkyDrive so that they are instantly accessible across a user’s PC, notebook, smartphone and tablet devices.
Access documents from virtually anywhere:
* Cloud – With your phone, you can access Office
documents that are stored on SkyDrive, SkyDrive Pro, or SharePoint.**
* Recent Documents – Office Mobile is cloud-connected. The documents you’ve recently viewed on your computer are readily available on your phone in the recent documents panel.
* Email Attachments – You can view and edit Office documents attached to email messages.
Office documents look stunning:
* Great-Looking Documents – Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents look great on your phone, thanks to support for charts, animations, SmartArt Graphics, and shapes.
* Optimized for phone – Word, Excel and PowerPoint have been optimized for the small screen of your phone.
* Resume Reading – When opening a Word document from SkyDrive or SkyDrive Pro on your phone, it automatically resumes at the place where you left off reading, even if you last viewed the document on your PC or tablet.
* Presentation Views – The Slide Navigator view in PowerPoint lets you browse slides faster, while speaker notes help you practice your presentation.
Make quick edits and share:
* Edit – You can make quick edits to Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents.
* Documents Remain Intact – Formatting and content remain intact when you edit Word, Excel, or PowerPoint documents on your phone.
* Edit While Offline – Your device doesn’t have to be continuously connected to the network to work on an Office document that is stored online. You can view and edit recently used documents even while you’re offline. Your changes will be saved online when your device reconnects to the network or to Wi-Fi.
* Create – You can create new Word and Excel documents on your phone.
* Comments – You can review comments that have been made in Word and Excel documents on your phone and add your own comments.
* Share – When you’re done with your edits or comments, simply send the document in email or save it to SkyDrive or SharePoint.
* A qualifying Office 365 subscription is required to use this app. Qualifying plans include: Office 365 Home Premium, Office 365 Small Business Premium, Office 365 Midsize Business, Office 365 Enterprise E3 and E4 (Enterprise and Government), Office 365 Education A3 and A4, Office 365 ProPlus, Office 365 University, and Office 365 trial subscriptions
NOTE: If you don’t have an Office 365 subscription, you can buy Office 365 Home Premium from http://www.office.com. With Office 365 Home Premium, you also get the latest version of Office for up to 5 PCs, Macs, and Windows tablets – and an additional 20 GB of SkyDrive cloud storage and Skype world minutes***.
* Requires a phone running Android OS 4.0 or later.
* Microsoft Office 2013 on a PC is needed for features like recent documents and resume reading.
**Office 365 account and setup necessary. Data connection required. Storage limits and carrier fees apply.
***SkyDrive storage and Skype world minutes are not available in all markets.
Microsoft has taken its time in bringing Office apps to the market and, according to number of sources, had been in two minds as to whether to launch them. However, recent announcements by both Apple and Google concerning free, cloud-based productivity suites and services seem to have forced the company’s hand.