Big news for telecommuters, weekday train riders and folks who work from home: according to a credible report on a reputable tech blog, the Microsoft Office suite of Word, Excel and PowerPoint will be available on your mobile device in early 2013. The report states that Microsoft Office for iPad and iPhone will arrive in late February or early March of next year, while Office for Android is expected drop in May.
This is not an official announcement from Microsoft, which has never confirmed they'd let Office clock in on Apple or Google's popular mobile phones and tablets. This report is based on a leak from Microsoft, or someone who's working with Microsoft.
The Verge, a tech blog, reports that Microsoft Office for iOS and Android are coming in 2013. These mobile versions of the popular productivity software will all run the new Microsoft Office 2013 versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook—not the 2007 or 2010 versions you're probably using right now.
Your documents, presentations and spreadsheets would all be stored on the Microsoft SkyDrive cloud storage system, though Microsoft does not want your porn stored there.
This information and release timeline is completely consistent with an accidental early announcement of MS Office for iOS and Android in early October, which Microsoft quickly shot down as "not accurate."
Office for Android and iOS won't just change the way you use Word, Excel or PowerPoint—it will change the way you pay for them. It appears Microsoft is moving toward more of a subscription-based model instead of the lump-sum payment model.
According to the Verge report, the Microsoft Office mobile apps will be free. Users will be able to log in and view documents for free once they sign up for a Microsoft account. You would not be able to actually change or edit documents, though, until you sign up for an Office 365 account—as little as $4 per month for an individual, and up to $20 per month (per person) for a business account.
At first glance, this looks like the smartest-thing-not-named-Xbox that Microsoft has done in about 15 years. Tablet and smartphone users have been dying to use spreadsheets and Word documents on their mobile devices. The prerequisite requirement of starting a Microsoft account grabs the company an audience share in the email department. The cloud-based monthly subscription model nearly eliminates Microsoft's exposure to software piracy.
Most important, it makes telecommuters more able to access work documents from anywhere, anytime. Or as so eloquently put by the tech blog Gizmodo, "to more effectively ignore and estrange themselves from their loved ones as their work-life balance is further deteriorated by mobile Word and PowerPoint aplenty."