Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Office for iOS Shows Microsoft's Shifting Philosophy

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Office for iOS Shows Microsoft's Shifting Philosophy

Article excerpt

Since the Steve Ballmer era, Microsoft has struggled to find its niche in the fast-paced tech world. It has been accused of falling behind small start-ups and failing to create innovative products. But in recent months, Microsoft's new leadership has made changes in an attempt to bring the company back to the forefront of technology.

Microsoft released a new version of its Office suite for the iPhone and iPad Thursday. The software, which includes Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, improves the previous iOS version and update the iPad apps released in March and has already been downloaded 40 million times. The iPad app had all the capabilities of the desktop Office version. But it required a subscription. Now, in a major move, Microsoft is giving its software away for free. The new iPad and iPhone apps allow users to utilize basic features for free and will charge customers for premium features, such as security tools.

"The most striking first impression made by Word, Excel, and PowerPoint on the iPhone is how great they look on the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus," wrote Wired's Marcus Wohlsen. "On these big, crisp screens, working on documents doesn't feel like a kludgy compromise anymore. Microsoft's designers have figured out how to minimize the intrusion of menus without dropping the functionality that desktop users take for granted."

Microsoft is still working on a general version of the app for Android devices, but Android users can download a preview version of the app. The company didn't release a date when it will launch a complete version. Because Android and iOS devices far outnumber Microsoft's mobile operating system, the company's challenge is to create a version of its software for all the different operating systems and devices. Microsoft is trying to circumvent that challenge by developing a Web-based version of the software that can be used on smaller screens, Michael Atella, Microsoft's Office apps product management, told the Associated Press. …

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