Microsoft has decided to make Office apps for iPhone, iPad, and — soon — Android freely downloadable, and will not require users to create a paid Office 365 account to do so. This replaces the former Office Mobile application, which had a less than wonderful user experience.
Office for iPad was released in March to great acclaim: over 40 million downloads later, Microsoft has decided that free Office apps on mobile devices is a strategic opportunity, a way to hold onto the company’s leadership position in productivity apps. Note that the company announced an integration with Dropbox earlier this week (see Dropbox partners up with Microsoft), another effort to stay as close as possible to the 35 billion Office documents stored there.
A Word doc on iPhone
Microsoft surely must be hoping that some percentage of those that download the free apps will sign up for Office 365. The most obvious example: people wanting to edit documents stored in OneDrive for Business or Dropbox for Business will have to sign up for Office 365. So Microsoft is comping the consumer, and accepting that loss of hypothetical revenue while looking to the enterprise side of things to keep the doors open in Redmond.
I wonder if Microsoft will go so far as to support Continuity on iOS and Mac OS X, going forward?