Microsoft Office for Android makes its debut

Microsoft released its Office application for Android on Wednesday.

Pichi Chuang/ Reuters/ File
The Microsoft booth at the 2013 Computex exhibition in Taipei. Microsoft released its Office application for Android on July 31, 2013.

The perennial excuse of “I’m away from my computer right now, and can’t finish typing this assignment,” might not work anymore.

On Wednesday, Microsoft introduced an Android-version of its Office application, which includes Word, Excel, and PowerPoint features. This debut followed the June release of an iPhone-compatible version of this app.

In order to run the software, Android phones must come with the 4.0 operating system (Ice Cream Sandwich) or later. The application does not run on tablet devices.

The app is a free installation, but requires users to open a subscription with Microsoft Office 365, which runs at $9.99 per month or $99.99 per year. Data is saved in Microsoft’s SkyCloud, so all of the documents, presentations, and spreadsheets are accessible from users’ desktop or laptop versions of Office. One subscription to Office is licensed to work on up to five computers and five smart phones.

The smart phone app, with its subscription requirement, is part of the company’s effort to keep up the cash flow from customers, who previously could purchase one copy of Office software, rather than having to renew a subscription.

If even 10 percent of the 140 million iPad owners signed up for Microsoft's Office 365, that would represent $1.4 billion a year in revenue, says Forrester Research analyst J.P. Gownder in an interview with the Associated Press. Failure to provide the app on the iPad or Android tablets gives incentives for users to explore competing offerings such as QuickOffice from Google and iWork from Apple, says Mr. Gownder.

Microsoft’s app comes on the heels of Google Drive, which has risen in popularity since the service was released for iOS in June 2012. The app is only on sale in the US, but it will soon be offered worldwide. Microsoft Office is available for download on the Google Play store.

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