Microsoft received quite a bit of criticism when it first released Office for iOS, and users were not able to edit documents. The company has changed course and iOS (and soon Android users) will be able to edit documents. But Microsoft Office won't be free for everybody, any kind of commercial use requires an Office 365 subscription. And you'll also need to pay if you want to use advanced editing features.
Here's a roundup of news stories, opinion columns and discussion links about Microsoft's free version of Office for Android. Note that we've also changed the format of our roundups to make it easier and faster to see the stories that interest you.
Computerworld's Gregg Keizer reports on Office 365's subscription requirement for businesses
Among all the headlines yesterday that touted Office as suddenly "free" after Microsoft announced changes to its mobile productivity apps, one thing was overlooked by many: For business, Office still costs money.
Microsoft was much to blame for the mix-up and oversight. In its messaging Thursday, including the two different blog posts where it spelled out the change details, it never once used the words "consumer" or "business" to clarify which customers got what for free and who must still pay. Instead, the Redmond, Wash. company used the phrase "bringing Office to everyone" to trumpet the news.
Android users on Reddit react to the news about Microsoft Office becoming free
"Interesting move. This probably helps prevent the cannibalization by Google Docs -- given the number of devices people have these days, this definitely makes it less frustrating to handle work documents on all your devices."
"I absolutely welcome the competition. Google forced MS to offer a free online and mobile office. MS will force Google to add features. Consumer wins!"
Mashable's Pete Pachal explains why making Office free makes sense for Microsoft
The reason this move is so smart is it means in those situations where you do need to work on — or even create — a Word or Excel document on a tablet or phone, you no longer have a reason to seek out an alternative like QuickOffice or Google Docs. People who might otherwise have sought out a competitor, one they might have even liked better, will no longer have reason to do so.
Instead, they'll stay with Office, strengthening the suite's mindshare as the only productivity suite that matters. Sure, there'll be a few people who get themselves an iPad with a Bluetooth keyboard and call it a day, but anyone who really wants to do work will want to use Office on a laptop. And they'll pay for the privilege.
Forbes' Amit Chowdhry notes that free Office on Android fits in with Microsoft's decision to make Office free on the web
It is not a surprise that Microsoft decided to offer Office for free on iOS and Android. Microsoft Office has to remain aggressive to stay competitive against other players in the mobile space like Google Drive and Apple iWork.
Plus, Microsoft already offers free Office apps on the web so making them free on a mobile platform is simply an extension of its existing strategy. “We’re taking that same user experience we provide online to the native apps of iOS and Android. We want to make sure that our customers can be productive across all the devices they have,” said Microsoft Office marketing head Michael Atalla via The Verge.
ZDNet's Larry Dignan thinks that competing with Google Docs is why Microsoft Office will be free for Android users
Unlike iOS, Google's Android comes with tight integration with a document editing suite. With Android you need a Gmail account that's usually attached to Google Drive, Docs and other apps. Those services can be subscription based, but for most folks they're free. Microsoft can't offer viewing of Docs without free editing on Android if it wants usage.
If Office didn't allow for document editing without a subscription, Microsoft would be at a disadvantage to Google's apps. A more freemium approach changes that equation for Office. Now all Microsoft has to do is provide a great experience when Office on Android is out of preview in early 2015.
What's your take on all this? Tell me in the comments below.
This article is published as part of the IDG Contributor Network. Want to Join?