Microsoft has recently unveiled a number of changes to its mobile Office applications that are intended to make the software more accessible for mobile users.
Specifically the company has updated the versions of the software that runs on Android and iOS, including changes to Word, Excel and Powerpoint, that will come as a great relief to those who are using the software on one of Microsoft’s competitor platforms and don’t believe that they are getting true value for money.
Amongst the most noteworthy changes is the ability to create and edit Office content free of charge. Previous versions of the software on both Android and iOS required users to create a subscription to Microsoft’s Office 365 software, which required a bare minimum payment of $6.99 per month in the US, with the figure increasing depending on the additional features the user wishes to have.
Furthermore, the company will now be making Word, Excel and Powerpoint standalone apps, rather than asking users to download the entire package as they have previously. This is great news for smartphone owners who don’t wish to use valuable memory space on the entire suite when they only need one of the applications.
The move marks a real effort by the company to make its mobile applications more accessible to those who are running alternative operating systems, displaying a marked attempt to get more people using their applications. However, some may argue that the move, while advantageous to many smartphone owners, may mean that there is even less possibility that users will make the switch to phones with a Microsoft operating system.
“We want more people to use our applications,” Amanda Lefebvre, an Office product manager, commented. “Usage is a primary goal for us. We want to give them more reasons to use our product.”
At its core the move is intended to draw more people into premium subscriptions, which offer a number of more powerful tools, while simultaneously encouraging people to use the free Office apps ahead of the likes of Google’s productivity tool. The theory goes that, by doing this, Microsoft will be able to expand its current mobile user base, which will in turn convince more users to switch to a Microsoft operated device in the future.
“We want to be where our customers are, and we want to make sure that we have a caveat-free commitment to phones and tablets,” Lefebvre added.
iOS users can expect the updated versions of the software to begin operating on Thursday of this week, whereas Android users may have to wait until early 2015 to feel the benefits.
Regardless, this is a brave move by Microsoft. There is certainly no guarantee that people will be encouraged to switch devices based solely on the Office package, but at the same time the company certainly needs to pull something out of the bag to increase its current 2.5% market share on mobile devices. More likely is the possibility that they will be able to pull in a few more premium subscriptions from those who wish to use the expanded versions of the software on mobile devices.