When you’re mobile, you likely want robust, free software that works with a lot of apps and that can be accessed anywhere. So far, Microsoft has failed to embrace those concepts — but it’s working to change that.
The software giant on Thursday unveiled a handful of changes to its Office software on smartphones and tablets running Apple and Google’s operating systems, refreshing its Word, PowerPoint and Excel apps to make them friendlier for the mobile age.
The most notable change is that users of Apple’s iPhone and its iPad tablet, or of devices running Google’s Android operating system will be able to create and edit Office content for free. Before this, getting access to those capabilities required an Office 365 subscription, which starts at $6.99 a month.
Microsoft is the latest company to embrace the concept of “freemium,” where many core aspects of a game or app are given away, but there’s also an option to pay for additional bells and whistles. The shift represents Microsoft’s revamped strategy of going after as broad a market as possible.
“We want more people to use our applications,” Amanda Lefebvre, an Office product manager, said in an interview. “Usage is a primary goal for us. We want to give them more reasons to use our product.”
As part of the changes, Microsoft also decided to blow up Office for the iPhone, which included basic versions of Word, PowerPoint and Excel all in one app. Instead, it’s now providing three standalone apps of Word, PowerPoint and Excel with more capabilities, just like the company did with its Office for iPad apps.