Microsoft’s Office Mobile apps for Android and iPhone are now completely free for all home users.
The company has done away with the need for an Office 365 subscription, opening up the full document viewing and editing capabilities of each app. It’s a clever move that will quickly make Office an essential download for many users. No one likes making changes to a spreadsheet on a 4-inch screen, so it makes sense for Microsoft to give the software away in hopes of steering users to its desktop Office software and the all-new iPad version — which still requires an annual $99 Office 365 subscription if you want to edit anything.
The free Office apps are intended “for home use” according to Microsoft’s update notes, which implies the company may still plan to hold businesses to that Office 365 requirement. But realistically speaking, that would be a difficult model to enforce. As The Next Web notes, employees can simply install the software on their personal phones and use it for work purposes. Microsoft is of course well aware of this, but since the free apps will help push more people to its cloud services in some way, it’s doubtful the company cares all that much. If you’re someone who relies on Office to get critical tasks done, odds are you’ll still be paying for it in some way.