For the first time, Android and iPhone users can take full advantage of Microsoft's mobile Office Apps without paying a penny. Microsoft announced that document creation and editing functionality is now available to all users; previously, the functionality was reserved for subscribers to Microsoft's cloud-enabled Office 365 service. Until now, users of the free smartphone apps could only view existing documents.
Users of iPads will still have to pay to create and edit documents in the new iPad version of Office, which debuted last week. Without a subscription, iPad users can read existing documents and show presentations, but they can't edit documents or create new ones on the new iPad versions of Word, Excel or PowerPoint.
A subscription to Office 365 starts at $7 per month for an individual, but the cheapest subscription limits usage to a single installation on one desktop computer and one tablet. The subscription option, dubbed Office 365 Personal, includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Publisher and more. It keeps your files backed up and synced across all your Web-connected devices, with 20GB of space on Microsoft's OneDrive cloud storage platform, plus 60 minutes of Skype calling each month. Meanwhile, the Office 365 Home Premium subscription — formerly the cheapest subscription option — will still give you the ability to install the suite on up to five computers and one smartphone or tablet for $100 per year, or $10 per month.
With the arrival of the free Android and iPhone apps, however, users can create and edit documents and spreadsheets on the go, even without a subscription. That could help budget-minded small business owners stay productive when away from the office.