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Throw a virtual rock inside the App Store and you'll hit any number of titles touting support for venerable Microsoft Office documents, but all of them have one problem: They're not from the folks in Redmond. That situation has finally changed with the arrival of the poorly named Office Mobile for Office 365 Subscribers, a free mobile companion for Microsoft's productivity suite. While the app mostly performs as advertised, it has Achilles' heels on both feet: First, it's limited to users of the company’s $9.99-per-month Office 365 service, and second, it's only for the iPhone and iPod touch – at least for now.
While the former limitation shouldn't come as that much of a surprise, the latter is a bit of a head-scratcher, especially considering the number of leaked images in recent months showing the app running on an iPad. It's not hard to imagine this is premeditated on Microsoft's part – after all, Office runs just dandy on the company's competing Surface tablets.
On a more positive note, Office Mobile is optimized (as much as it can be) for smaller screens, allowing creation and basic editing of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents, even while offline. Because the app is jacked into Microsoft's cloud-powered Office 365 service, supported documents are stored on SkyDrive or SharePoint – and to our horror, there's absolutely no option for saving files locally. Sharing is also limited to email attachment only; files can't even be opened in other iPhone apps, although this can already be done from the free SkyDrive app. Although it was a little slow to load at first, Office Mobile did faithfully reproduce a nearly 7MB PowerPoint document, which the SkyDrive app completely mangled by contrast.
To get started quickly, Microsoft includes a handful of common templates like Agenda and Report for Word, plus Budget and Mileage Tracker for Excel. A new PowerPoint presentation called "The Magical Auroras" with six common page styles is also on hand, but you can't really do much with it (or any other PPTX file) beyond editing text and moving or hiding slides.
The Office 365 subscription requirement will be particularly vexing for Mac users, who are stuck with the same old crusty Office for Mac 2011 that's been kicking around for nearly three years. All told, Office Mobile is a nice bonus for those who already subscribe to the service, but it's nowhere near a true version of Microsoft's legendary productivity trio quite yet.
The bottom line. iPhone only and it requires an Office 365 subscription? If that isn't enough to curb the enthusiasm of iOS users, the limited options for editing, saving, and sharing files in Office Mobile certainly will.
iPhone or iPod touch running iOS 6.1 or later
Microsoft Office finally arrives on iOS. Faithful viewing of Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents.
No native iPad support. Requires Office 365 subscription. Extremely limited editing for PowerPoint presentations. Limited save and share options.