And, although it is listed as being free and offering users the ability to view Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents, in order to get the most out of the app, downloaders will also need to sign up to Microsoft’s cloud-based Office 365 subscription program.
The new app is essentially identical to the version that landed in the Apple App Store on June 14, and although it will scale up to work on a tablet, Microsoft has optimized it for smaller screens, recommending that Android tablet owners instead make do with the suite of Office web apps that are accessible via an internet browser.
A full-priced (i.e., one without a student or teacher discount) Office 365 subscription currently retails for $99.99 a year. But, for that fee, users will be able to not just read, but create, edit and save a host of different Office file types and sync them with SkyDrive so that they are instantly accessible across a user’s PC, notebook, smartphone and tablet devices.
Microsoft has taken its time in bringing Office apps to the market and, according to number of sources, had been in two minds as to whether to launch them. However, recent announcements by both Apple and Google concerning free, cloud-based productivity suites and services seem to have forced the company’s hand.