Microsoft Office may be the de facto standard when it comes to most office-related work on PCs and even Macs, but it wasn’t that long ago that it barely had a presence in the mobile world.
In June 2013, Office Mobile 365 finally arrived on the iPhone, and an Android version was released shortly thereafter. Some who were bound to the Microsoft world used the apps, but they didn’t exactly set the world on fire. Just over a year later, Microsoft took a bold step and made the iOS and Android versions of its Office apps completely free.
That seems to have worked for Microsoft, because during the company’s financial results call yesterday, CEO Satya Nadella revealed that the apps had reached a combined total of over 100 million downloads. Impressive as that number is, it shouldn’t exactly come as a surprise, as the Office apps, among other closely integrated software like Skype, frequently appear in top 100 lists in the App Store and Google Play Store.
While permitting a flood of downloads of free apps isn’t going to do anything for Microsoft’s bottom line, it does show that there is indeed demand for the company’s Office suite on multiple platforms. Lately, it seems that Microsoft has been doing a lot to raise awareness of its apps and services among users on other platforms, announcing plans to bring Cortana to iOS and Android, and adding PowerPoint and OneDrive support to the Apple Watch.
By increasing awareness of its free products, Microsoft stands to make significant gains among the products that it does charge users for. The company now has 12.4 million users paying for Office apps and cloud services, The Verge reports, and adoption of the free Office apps could help to keep that number growing.
This aggressive strategy of putting Microsoft products in front of as many people as possible — even if they aren’t paying for all of them — is a risk, but the gains the company stands to make in return could be worth it.
Available at the Microsoft Store