In a move which has surprised many followers of the software giant Microsoft, the company has announced today that the suite of Office apps for iOS (Word/Excel/Powerpoint/OneNote) and a preview edition for Android will be available completely free to use for any user from today.
The applications have were previously free in the App Stores, however a subscription to the Office365 Online service was required to use them…which for an average user would be $12 a month to maintain.
In the same announcement Microsoft discussed some updates to the applications which include a full release for Android in December, plus a touch optimised version for Windows 10.
Also included in the announcement was the confirmation that Microsoft & Dropbox have reached a deal now allowing users to save and edit documents into Dropbox accounts rather than being forced to use the proprietary OneDrive service.
The move could be seen by many as a way to tighten up the companies dominance on the market of productivity applications across multiple platforms with the news that the company gained 40 million users at the original iPad release, plus more competition being offered from the likes of Apple with it’s apps being made available for free on new devices in the last 12 months.
To take advantage of the announcement, you will need a Microsoft Account (Outlook.com email or your own email signed up to Microsoft’s service) and to download the updated applications in the App Stores (remember to be on a Wifi connection as they are over a 200mb each, but worth it).
Subscription restrictions still apply for those who wish to use OneDrive or Dropbox Business services from within the software.
Update: Microsoft has also confirmed that refunds will be available for those who purchased Office 365 just to use the iPad applications.
Customers who purchased the subscription on the App Store need to contact Apple directly to get a refund.
Those who purchased via Microsoft need to contact the software provider with refunds taking between 6-8 weeks to process.