Office 365 finally comes to iPhone

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On Friday, software giant announced that its Office software package is coming to the iPhone. Dubbed Office 365, the suite will offer people the ability to read and edit their text documents, spreadsheets and slide presentations at the doctor’s office or at a soccer game.

The Office 365 app, which launched on Friday as a free download, is currently available for iPhone and iPad download and will require an Office 365 subscription (which costs $99.99 a year). However, once signed up users will finally be able to view and edit Word, Excel and PowerPoint files and to create Word and Excel files from scratch within the app. It also syncs to Microsoft’s SkyDrive cloud storage service so that users can drag files from their desktops or other synced devices and use them on their iPhone or iPad.

People with Office 365 subscriptions will be able to run the new app on up to five iPhones, in addition to the five Mac or Windows computers. The regular version of Office works on Windows 8 tablets, and most of the features are available on a version designed for tablets running a lightweight version of Windows called RT. Customers needing to use Office on a larger screen than a phone might be drawn to the Windows tablets, which have lagged behind in sales and cachet compared with Apple’s iPad and various devices running Google’s Android system.

For now it’s only Microsoft’s customers in the US who can download the app, though. Microsoft says that an additional 135 markets and 27 languages will get it “very soon.”

But Microsoft said the app won’t offer the same range of features available on regular computers.

It’s meant for lightweight editing, not complex calculations or heavy graphical work, Schneider said. Someone about to give a speech can review a PowerPoint presentation and fix a typo, for instance. Someone getting a Word or Excel document as an email attachment can add comments or make changes, then send it back, either as an email attachment or through a sharing feature on SkyDrive.

The iPhone app also won’t have Outlook for email, Publisher for desktop publishing and Access for databases. Microsoft’s OneNote software for note-taking has been available for free separately for iPhones and iPads.

Other impressive features include being able to download Office files sent as email attachments, edit them and resend them via email, plus the ability to work offline.

The company isn’t making an iPad version, though, nor is it offering the app on Android devices. Microsoft Corp. is treading a fine line as it tries to make its $100-a-year Office subscription more compelling, without removing an advantage that tablet computers running Microsoft’s Windows system now have — the ability to run popular Office programs such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint.

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