Microsoft Office makes the leap to iPhone

A surprise popped up in the iTunes Store on Friday: an iPhone version of Microsoft Office.

The app has its limitations. It’s free to download but only works for those who subscribe to Microsoft’s Office 365 service, which costs $10 per month or $100 per year. It isn’t meant for the iPad, whose larger screen would make it easier to work with documents. And it only works with the three core programs of Office: Word, Excel and PowerPoint.

But it is Office. And it’s on the iPhone. That counts for a lot.

Users can edit existing documents started on other screens from Word, Excel and PowerPoint using the app, making it easier to incorporate last-minute changes and suggestions into shared meeting materials that everyone on a team can see. Users can also make new Word and Excel files from their phones, which is particularly convenient for those times when you want to get a thought or figure down, but don’t have a laptop handy.

Because the app works with Office 365’s cloud capabilities, the changes you make on your phone will show up across all your devices. So the next time you pick up the document on your laptop or desktop, it should reflect all the tweaks you made on the go.

The app comes after long speculation over whether Microsoft would come up with a way to run its essential software suite on smartphones from competitors. Office is one of Microsoft’s most important and iconic products and has been a major selling point for Microsoft’s Windows Phones and tablets running Windows RT and Windows 8.

But adding iOS support gives Microsoft the opportunity to reach a much wider audience in the smartphone market and sell more of the subscriptions it’s pushing for the wider Office suite.

For consumers, it’s certainly a plus. To this point, most of the Office alternatives that have popped up to fill a demand for productivity software on the iPhone are, by and large, not as stable, feature-rich or easy to share with others as Microsoft’s files.

That’s not to say that there isn’t some competition. Google, which has challenged Office with its flexible and portable Google Docs suite, has a Drive app for the phone that also lets users make new word-processing documents or spreadsheets from the iPhone. Users can also upload photos or videos using the app, and edit a wider range of Drive documents.

And Apple announced earlier this week that it’s adapting its iWork suite for iCloud, providing a more competitive product to take on Office 365. The additions mean that Apple’s productivity software will give users a way to work with Pages, Numbers and Keynote files on the Web. Those files will also be Office-compatible, the company said.

More in Herald Business Journal

Health-care consumers need to take the lead, so get smart

David Russian, CEO of Western Washington Medical Group, writes our third essay about fixing health care.

More business, more competition for Everett kidney dialysis center

Nonprofit Puget Sound Kidney Centers sees large for-profit competitors enter state market.

Molina Medical holds fall carnival for families in Everett

Molina Medical is hosting a free event for families in the Everett… Continue reading

Leadership Snohomish County celebrates 20 years of service

Leadership Snohomish County is celebrating its 20th anniversary. The organization was launched… Continue reading

Snohomish, Monroe manufacturers honored for innovation, excellence

Two Snohomish County companies have been honored with Manufacturing Excellence awards at… Continue reading

Remodeled home tours planned this weekend

This weekend, Edmonds-based Chermak Construction will participate in the 2017 Remodeled Homes… Continue reading

Barron Heating to celebrate anniversary at Marysville showroom

Barron Heating and Air Conditioning is celebrating its 45th anniversary from 10… Continue reading

Robots on Wall Street: Slow-footed regulators lose ground

Watchdogs have to figure out how to check computers running lightening-fast algorithms.

US budget deficit hits $666B, an $80B spike for the year

The deficit issue has largely fallen in prominence in Washington in recent years.

Most Read