MS Office free for tablets and phones

It’s free….but it’s not a full package with all the features

Microsoft has announced that it is making the Office apps free on the iPad and Android tablets, but as you can guess there are some restrictions.

The starter package features are free and will allow you to use the basic functions of Word, Excel and Powerpoint. Microsoft are keen for users to consider a full Office365 subscription which unlocks all the advanced features and the unlimited cloud storage via OneDrive.

In a nutshell, phone and tablet users can create, edit and view documents for free and have a sync setup with OneDrive or DropBox. Specific advanced editing tools (like track changes) will require a subscription. Commercial use rights for use in the workplace will require an Office365 for Business subscription.

In Word, Excel and PowerPoint, there are restrictions on loading documents from OneDrive for Business, Dropbox for Business or Sharepoint. Saving and editing these documents will require an Office 365 subscription, while free users will be limited to read-only mode. These restrictions don't apply to files stored in the consumer versions of OneDrive and Dropbox.

More details on what is free vs what you have to pay for is:-

Word

  • Free version supports basic editing features such as creating text, adding styles such as bold and italics, changing the font and choosing from a list of colours
  • Subscription required to change the orientation of a document between portrait and landscape mode. Free users can open landscape documents, but can't change them, and will create all new documents in portrait.
  • Subscription required to format documents into columns. Free users can open existing documents with columns and edit the text, but can't modify or undo the columns themselves.
  • Subscription required to create section breaks such as Next Page, Continuous, Odd and Even Pages. Free users can still view section breaks from existing documents and create new page breaks.
  • Subscription required to accept or reject Track Changes. With the free version, Track Changes will be turned on by default in any marked up document, and can't be turned off, and any changes users make will be tracked. Free users also can't turn on Track Changes in a new document.
  • Subscription required for custom changes such as specific colours, text styles and word art.

Excel

  • The free version of Microsoft's spreadsheet editor has the same restrictions on text, charts, tables and pictures that apply to Word.
  • Subscription required to change layout or style of pivot tables. Free users can still pivot and refresh however.

Powerpoint

  • Again, Microsoft's presentation editor has the same formatting restrictions on text, charts, tables and pictures that also apply to Word and Excel.
  • Subscription required for advanced presentation tools such as presenter view, inking and highlighting.
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