Microsoft has clarified the main differences, in both price and features, of the mobile Office apps compared to the full-featured desktop and laptop applications made for professional users. In the latter case, customers will have to purchase an Office 365 subscription in order to use those apps.
Recently, Microsoft allowed users of the Office apps for Android and iOS devices to create, edit and view documents for free, rather than requiring an Office 365 subscription. In a blog post this week, Microsoft's Kirk Koenigsbauer says that devices up to a certain screen size will have free viewing and editing access. He stated:
Based on our research, we are classifying anything with a screen size of 10.1 inches or less as a true mobile device: You're probably using it on the go, when it's not practical to use a larger computing device such as a PC or a Mac. You probably aren't using a mouse or a keyboard, instead navigating via touch interface. It's probably not a "pro" category tablet that is used for design or presentations. On these devices, the core editing and viewing experience is free, until you get to those premium, subscription features.
Consumers also have the option of purchasing an Office 365 Personal or Home subscription which offers more features. Koenigbauer said:
With Office 365 Home and Office 365 Personal, families and individuals can extend the Office experience across all of their devices and take advantage of premium, subscription-only benefits like more robust editing and authoring features in the Office apps, 1TB of OneDrive storage and 60 minutes of Skype unlimited worldwide calling per month.
Finally, business users of Office apps will be required to sign up for some kind of Office 365 subscription plan. Koenigbauer says:
These users require more than simple apps: Organizations need an integrated product suite. They need security and reliability. And most of all, they need to be able to get things done, wherever they are. Serving professional users on a subscription-only basis makes sense, because of those extended needs, and the resulting product categories and licensing models for business customers are a key element to Office 365 experiencing phenomenal growth.
Microsoft also revealed that the current combined number of subscriptions to Office 365 Home and Office 365 Personal is now over 9.2 million, while commercial seats for Office 365 had increased by 88% compared to the same time a year ago.