‘Free’ Office isn’t free at all

Microsoft is having a good laugh having just fooled journalists and customers all over the world with their announcement of ‘free’ Office for iPad and iPhone.

It’s not free at all.

For as long as Office-Watch.com has existed (19 years now) we’ve known to closely read Microsoft announcements and press releases.  They are very cleverly and carefully written to both mislead while telling the strict truth if you read carefully.

So on Thursday they issued a press release that said, among other things:

customers on iPhone, iPad and Android can create and edit Office content without a subscription

In fact the Office for iOS apps have limited editing capabilities.  For the true ‘full’ editing experience you still need an Office 365 subscription.

Mind you, the current version of the apps have a lot of editing power.  The editing options are impressive and surprisingly generous.

Of course, that could change in the future.  Once Microsoft dominates the mobile apps market they’ll be able to squeeze (sorry ‘encourage’) people to pay for the apps.

Make no mistake, the real beneficiary of this move is Microsoft.  They’ll make millions more from this deal and shut-out the many Office wanna be’s.  On top of all that they’ve received millions of dollars of free publicity by careful wording to fool the fourth estate.

Microsoft will do anything to protect its vast market share in the Office suite.  That’s what they’ve done with this move.

Offering Office mobile free for viewing wasn’t enough to entice customers and scare the competition. There were too many ‘Office clones’ out there for mobile devices, especially Google, nipping away at Microsoft’s customers.

In one stroke Microsoft got millions more people using Office mobile with a good chance they’ll buy an Office 365 rental/subscription to get the ‘full’ app plus all the other goodies (desktop programs, ‘unlimited’ OneDrive etc.).    Keep in mind that Microsoft’s wider goal is to get people on the yearly payment treadmill instead of paying once for software so this move generates not only a sale now, but a stream of revenue for many years to come.

Makers of Office rivals for mobile have seen their potential customer base shrink as people generally prefer ‘real’ Microsoft Office.   All the free publicity will also help sell Office 365 plans too.

All up … a good days work for Microsoft marketing.

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