ShareThis Page
Microsoft updates Office apps for iPhones, iPads |

Microsoft updates Office apps for iPhones, iPads

The Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO — Microsoft is releasing new, beefed-up versions of its popular Office software apps for iPhones and iPads, part of the company’s push to stay relevant to workers in an increasingly mobile world.

It’s working on new versions for Android tablets and phones, although they’re not ready for general release.

As more workers use smartphones and tablets along with — or instead of — desktop PCs, they want to have the same capabilities on all their devices, says Michael Atalla, director of Microsoft’s Office apps product management. Microsoft has been working for two years to build new web-based versions of its software and apps that can be easily used on the much smaller screens of mobile devices, but still seem familiar to people who use the traditional desktop tools.

The free updates, including Word, Excel and PowerPoint, replace a limited iPhone version and upgrade a more powerful set of apps that the company released for iPad tablets in March, which has been downloaded 40 million times. The older iPhone version allowed users to view files and make simple editing changes, but the new apps will resemble the iPad versions and have more of the capabilities found in Office software used on desktop computers. And unlike earlier iPad versions, the new apps don’t require a subscription to create files or documents. While the apps are free, Microsoft hopes to make money by selling premium features, including security tools for business users, through its Office 365 subscription service.

Microsoft’s Office software is widely used by businesses, but it faces competition from web and mobile programs made by Google Inc., Apple Inc. and other rivals. Although most of Microsoft Corp.’s revenue still comes from traditional software, CEO Satya Nadella wants to shift the company’s focus to mobile and web-based products. The Redmond, Wash., company recently said it delayed producing a new version of Office for Apple’s Mac computers so it could focus on mobile apps.

One big challenge for Microsoft stems from the complexity of building different versions of each app for competing mobile operating systems. Apple’s iPhones and iPads are far outnumbered by smartphones and tablets that use Google’s Android mobile operating system. But different versions of Android run on devices from a variety of manufacturers. Microsoft also has a mobile operating system, although it’s not as widely used.

Microsoft is inviting Android users to sign up for a test version of its new Office apps for Android tablets this week, but Atalla said the finished apps won’t be released until early next year. He said new apps for Android phones are in the works but declined to give a time frame.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.