When I got my first tablet I had big dreams of super mobile productivity. You know what I mean…soft hued fantasies of tucking my tablet, along with its accompanying keyboard, into my purse and being able to whip it out to write documents while at conferences, or on my break, or waiting at the mechanic. Those dreams led to frustration when “Microsoft Office compatible” apps failed to deliver and no official Microsoft Office apps were to be found. And yes, I feel like the quotation marks are necessary when talking about “Microsoft Office compatible” apps.
I tried the top three rated “MS compatible” apps, because even though being able to write and edit my docs while on the go sounded really sleek, working from the PC was still a better experience. So the app had to be Office compatible. Some of those apps messed me over worse than others, but none of them made the transition flawlessly. I literally screamed one day in my work cafeteria when I opened a 250+ page document to find that all of my meticulous formatting had gone the way of Mount St Helens. All 250+ pages of it. No paragraphing, no italics, no chapter headings. Nothing remained but one, humungous Flaulkner-esque block of text without relief that made me want to beat my tablet against the table. This happened with the app that I had tried, tested and determined to be the best of the top three…
I am not the only one who has suffered these woes. I’ve mentioned before a family member of mine whose boss banned him from working his business spreadsheets and documents on his iPad for similar reasons. Just yesterday my mom was over here lamenting the fact that she spent a considerable amount of time formatting spreadsheets for each of her numerous piano students, only to have all that formatting erased when she opened the file on her tablet.
How long I pined for official Microsoft Office apps for my tablet. Not just me, the world. Well, in case you missed the memo, Microsoft released their official web apps several months ago. The thing is, you can’t use those apps on your tablet unless you’ve got an Office 365 subscription instead of, or in addition to, a regular version of Office.
What does this mean to you? It means times are a changing.
Microsoft recognizes that we don’t want to be limited to working on one machine anymore, so licensing one PC just won’t do. Now in addition to, or in lieu of, offering a single License for the MS Office suite as they have in the past, they are now offering a subscription to Office 365 which gives you lots of flexibility in using Word, Excel, PowerPoint and the like on different devices—without sacrificing your beautiful formatting.
What do you get? The best of both worlds—the ability to use the full suite on your at home computer as well as mobile access.
(The above graphic is a little outdated, I know. It’s no longer called SkyDrive, but OneDrive, and you get a terabyte of storage, not just twenty gigs…)
You’ll get to use the latest versions and features of the official Microsoft Office suite with all the bells and whistles—even if Microsoft releases a brand new version in the middle of your subscription—including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Publisher, and Access. You can use office on your PC (or Mac) and you’ll also have access to the official MS Office Mobile apps, not to mention one terabyte of cloud storage per user (home subscription allows up to five different users).
There are many different subscription options ranging from home, to student, to business use. For a full breakdown of the home options click here. Just to cover the basics I can tell you that with a home subscription you’ll have permission to use the Office suite on up to five different PCs, plus five different tablets, and any number of smart phones. You also have the option of a personal subscription, and a student subscription. Each of these gives you different permission as far as the number of devices you can use it on and a slight variance on the price.
*Note: my experience with the Office Mobile apps over the past six(ish) months has been very positive. Not only do they preserve my beautiful formatting, but the user interface is svelte and easy to use. While I’ll always prefer to do my heavy duty productivity on my laptop or PC, these apps make mobile productivity painless and, well, productive, instead of causing random destruction every now and then.
How much does it cost?
Microsoft allows you to subscribe on a monthly basis, or yearly basis, or annual auto-renewal. These are the options for home users. There are completely separate plans for businesses.
- For regular home & student software (1 PC): $139.99
- For home (5 users): $99 per year / or $9.99 per month
- For Personal (1 user): $69 per year / or $6.99 per month
- For University Students (1 user): $79.99 for 4 years/ $1.67 per month
So there you have it. All you Office purists–or those who are sick of the shortfalls of the other options available–out there who have been dying to get your mitts on an app that will make your mobile productivity as enjoyable as it can be, this is now possible. You can download the Office 365 app to your devices from the Google Play store, or the App Store.
*You will be allowed to download the apps and view files without a subscription, but without signing into an Office 365 account you will not be able to edit anything.
*Microsoft did give me a free subscription to Office 365 a while back, but did not compensate me monetarily for this post. All opinions stated above are mine.
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I’m a technological enthusiast with a completely unrelated degree in English Literature. I’ve also been known to dabble in photography and DIY furniture refinishing, with occasional stints of fitness sprinkled among all of the above.