Microsoft Office for iPad apps are free, but it'll cost upto $120 a year to use it all

The big Microsoft Office for iPad news is that it's here – today – and that it's completely free to download. But to use the full featureset you'll be required to have an Office 365 subscription which at present costs upto $120 a year, $80 if you're a student or $69.99 on the personal tier.

For free, you'll be able to use Word, Excel and Powerpoint on your iPad to view documents and for delivering presentations. The Office 365 subscription unlocks everything else, giving you access to the full power and featureset of the applications.

Of course, Office 365 doesn't just give you full access to Office for iPad. The Home Premium version for example gives you desktop copies of Office for Mac or Windows for up to 5 different computers, access to the Office web apps, 20GB of SkyDrive and some inclusive Skype calling. Office for iPad is another of the value added propositions to the package.

Microsoft talked a lot about Office 365 and exposing it to developers, as well as each and every different platform. It's hard to look past the need for a subscription, but it looks as though this model plays an important role in Microsoft's future.

More: Office 365 pricing (opens in new tab)

Richard Devine

Editor at iMore, part time racing driver, full time British guy. Follow him on Twitter and Google+

  • What a rip off Sent from the iMore App
  • Kind of like $100 a year for 50gb of iCloud space. Sent from the iMore App
  • So you're owed the product of someone else's labor?
  • Yea you cheap ass. Apple iPhones are a ripoff.
  • I think there is a new $69.99 per year subscription that is going to be available that allows you to install on one computer and one tablet.
  • A lot of people are saying its a rip off but if you already have a subscription its great, and the fact you can have office desktop for 5 computers and your ios devices is a pretty good deal. I would use iWork if they didn't strip them down and if they were actually free for me, I already had my mac when they went free so I have to pay for them.
  • Exactly. This is just another part of what is frankly a pretty competitive package
  • In the U.S., the Microsoft Store has a year subscription for $89 right now.... the $120 is only if you pay month-to-month ($9.99 a month).
  • Got a link? I can't see it on the page we linked to in the post
  • ^ Yes, that works. Its $99 a year normally, but $10 off at Microsoft Store right now.
  • They actually have a Personal tier now for only $69.99/yr or $6.99/mo that allows you one PC or Mac install and tablet activation. You still get the 20 GB of OneDrive storage and 60 Skype min/mo.
  • Thanks, as you can tell we're a little rusty with Microsoft ;-) I've amended the post to make mention and hopefully make things a little clearer :-)
  • Haha, there's plenty of news to cover on your side so it's completely understandable =)
  • This is also great for students who can't afford a full product key. 365 gives them all future updates and iterations of Office for a consistently low monthly price. Complaining about it is asinine.
  • Maybe I'm not understanding something, but I installed the app and it's letting me view and edit Word and Excel documents that are stored on my Microsoft OneDrive and I don't have an Office 365 subscription. So if you just use Word and Excel, it doesn't cost anything.
  • Will it let you create a document? Sent from the iMore App
  • Never mind, I was using the iPhone app. I thought they were the same. Sent from the iMore App
  • I was just about to ask if you were using the iPhone app. Yes, they are different.
  • That is what I am wondering. Can you create a word doc. I bought a full office 2013, and used my live ID which I think is now OneDrive. This was back in my PC days. I tried OneNote on the Mac, and it showed all my notebooks from my Live account. I was able to create new notes, and they synced. I do not have a 365 account. Guess I will try, and see what happens. Sent from the iMore App
  • As mentioned above, the poster was using the iPhone MS Office app, which does let you edit documents. The iPad versions are a different animal.
  • This is real simple. Etablish a free first month O365 Account on regular MS web site. Then activate the Apps on your iPad and after this logout of your O365 MS Account on iPad. Then you can finally unsubscribe your O365 subscription before the first free month end.
    You now have functional Office Apps on your iPad but not connected to Sky. Email in and out is only option. It works exellent!
  • I look at it 2 ways
    1. Awesome deal for those who already have a subscription or who were considering getting one but held back due to lack of iOS version! Adds value to the suit for existing customers and may sway some on the fence to jump on board.
    2. Not worth it to me or many people who use their iPads as their main computing device. I realize we may still be the minority, and I do have a Mac and PC, but they only get booted up a few times a year... Therefore the subscription model is a deal breaker for me. Sent from the iMore App
  • Is there a discount for college students? Sent from the iMore App
  • They do, Office 365 University, and it's a lot cheaper than I thought it was. It's $79.99 for a 4-year subscription, which I thought that was the yearly price. It has the OneDrive storage and Skype minutes. I also forgot to mention in my other posts that, if you go to someone's computer and they don't have Office, you can stream the full versions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint through the browser. I tried it and it worked, but I haven't spent any significant time using that functionality.
  • I'm thrilled about this. However, I'd love to know when Office for the Mac is getting their much needed update.
  • This year and based on what I've seen from their recent OneNote for OS X and Office for iOS, it may turn out to be a very good release for us Mac fans.
  • Repost from above: They actually have a Personal tier now for only $69.99/yr or $6.99/mo that allows you one PC or Mac install and tablet activation. You still get the 20 GB of OneDrive storage and 60 Skype min/mo. Also, the Home tier is only $99.99/yr or $9.99/mo. That gives you 5 PC and Max licenses, but I'm not sure how many tablet activations. They even allow you to share that subscription with up to 5 other users who will be able to utilize your available licenses, plus the OneDrive storage and Skype minutes. It's actually a pretty sweet deal. When I got mine I also got an 12 month Xbox Live Gold pass (promotion at the time).
  •'s not necessarily true for all countries. We haven't looked that far yet :) In the UK I'm expecting there to be no discounted prices ;-)
  • You are correct. I admit I don't know much about the international pricing, except that people tend to be... disheartened by them I feel, which is very unfortunate. They lose out, not the users, as there are no shortage of "good enough" alternatives.
  • There are so many free options for document creation that $70-$100 a year for Office 365 is out of the question in my book. Using Google drive for free on all of my devices keeps my college budget happy.
  • As always, it depends on your needs. Peter Cohen had a good article on this recently. For the college student that doesn't have to worry about document compatibility with other users who are using Office, Google Docs works great. However for the business world, Office is still the de facto standard and the having the ability to open, edit, and save Office docs, and have other users of Office be able to use those docs is important. Pages and Google Docs have an option to save documents in an Office compatible format, however the translation isn't always perfect. Further, Office programs still have more features and capabilities (especially Excel) than the free options (macros, VB scripts, etc). Granted, 90% of people don't need or use those extra features. However, for those who do need those features, then Office is the only real choice.
  • I still use Office 2007 and haven't yet found functionality that I need to upgrade to a later version for. So to now pay £120 a year in the UK just to use an app.... just doesn't cut it for me. Especially as I find the integration from Office to Keynote, Pages, and Numbers on the iPad is actually not too bad and with a few minor tweeks I can get fairly advanced spreadsheets, presentations and documents all talking nicely. So the subscription is a deal breaker for me.
  • Breakdown: Just so everyone is on the same page, here are the apps you get with the subscription: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneNote, Publisher, and Access The standalone version is Office Professional 2013 at $399.99. If you only installed the standalone version on a single PC every four years you'd be at a break-even point of $100 bucks per year. If you don't need all of that and you're only using it for tablets then it's quite likely significant overkill. But for what you get, it's *extremely* beneficial pricing. You essentially get Office Professional 2013 x 5 ($399.99 * 5 = $1999.95) and the ability to edit documents on tablets (no stand alone pricing equivalent). I also expect that Microsoft will ramp up iterative development and you're going to start seeing a much shorter release cycle for subscription software. You'll be seeing new features rolling out more quickly (like Google does with Google Drive). As with everything you need to evaluate how you plan on using the software. It will either be worthwhile for you, or it won't. In our family (myself, my wife, and six children in school) it's WELL worth the cost. We are also a mixed-platform family: I prefer Apple products (MBA 13" / iPad / iPhone), my wife prefers Microsoft and Android products (Windows laptop, Note 3 phone), and the kids that are old enough have a mix of Apple and Android mobile devices). I cannot explain how cost-effective this subscription service is for us. I guess the moral of the story is "subscriptions aren't always bad", but like anything else it all depends on your needs.
  • Microsoft is trying desperately moving to a subscription base product selling. They know that the user do not update their products because they are expensive vs. what they offer. So, they want the users pay a monthly fee so they can force them to pay for upgrades they don't need. I think if not working for them. The proof of that is this move they made with the office apps for the iOS platform. Why they don't just sell the app for 9.99 bucks, no because if they do that, they will only rip the user once, is better to rip them on a monthly basis. with a subscription. Very clever MS, very clever.
  • Here's the problem I have with subscriptions, they are way too expensive than what we used to have. It costs 3 to 5 times more than it used to since most people would not need more than 1 to 3 licenses. We use a computer for at least 3 years. With subscriptions, that's USD 300 for 5 or USD 210 for 1 computer. When you resell or give away your computer it is without Office. Before subscriptions one could get a 3 install Office for USD 100 to 150 that would last forever i.e. 3 years of one's own use and may be another 2 for whoever gets the used computer.
  • If my boss pays for all of it, I'll be OK with using it. Otherwise I'll take my patronage elsewhere......