Microsoft has signed off on the final (RTM) version of Office 2013, paving the way for the rollout of the productivity suite over the next few months. But more importantly – for mobile devices, at least – Office might finally be coming to Android and iOS in April. Windows Phone 8, of course, already has these apps built into the operating system.
Office 2013 isn’t scheduled to become generally available until the first quarter of 2013 – the last week of January or the first week of February, according to Paul Thurrott – but as usual, some customers will be able to access the suite ahead of time. Office 365 Enterprise customers, Volume Licensing customers with Software Assurance, and MSDN/TechNet subscribers will be the first to get their hands on the final bits in November, but a preview version of the software will come bundled with all Windows RT devices beginning on October 26. As previously announced, these preview copies will be automatically updated to the RTM version sometime between November and January, depending on the language. Additionally, anyone who purchases a copy of Office 2010 after October 19 will be eligible for a free upgrade to Office 2013 early next year.
Microsoft has yet to confirm the existence of Office apps on Android and iOS, but Thurrott’s source claims that you’ll be able to download them in April - provided you have a subscription to Office 365. Microsoft currently has no plans to sell standalone versions of the apps.
While this might sound disappointing on the surface, it actually isn’t too bad, given Microsoft’s aggressive pricing strategy for the new Office. One license of Office Home and Student 2013 costs $139.99, but the annual $99.99 subscription to Office 365 Home Premium is a much better deal in the long run. This subscription gives you licenses for the latest version of the same Office applications on up to five PCs or Macs (e.g. everyone or every device in your house), an additional 20GB of SkyDrive storage, and 60 minutes of Skype credit per month.
So if you need to use Office on more than one device, going with the subscription is a no-brainer. Plus, you’ll get the mobile apps too.