Microsoft’s Office suite of productivity apps have always been at the forefront of whatever technologies are trending. With Macs being used as credible alternatives to PCs, Microsoft created Office for Mac. When it became clear that a growing number of people needed a way to at least read their documents away from their PC Microsoft created Microsoft Office Mobile for smartphones and bundled a copy free with every Windows Phone it sold. Microsoft Office is the way a very large number of users get work done.
One of the key ways Microsoft hopes to make sure that remains the case is by offering up free Microsoft Office versions. By making free Microsoft Office available, the company is hoping to hook users into its ecosystem across their smartphone and tablet. It’s also hoping that at some point it’ll find a way to turn those customers into paying users.
Here are the different ways you can get free Microsoft Office. Remember these methods when you’re considering what PCs to purchase, tablets to invest in or smartphones to buy this holiday season.
Web applications have become an easy way to get around the headcheeses of traditional software for most. Often, web apps are completely free and include most of the features you’d get in a standard, traditional app that runs alongside things like iTunes. Microsoft Office Online is a great example of this.
Office Online includes web versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote. Documents that were created somewhere else can be opened and edited there with almost no hassle. Users who prefer to have access to their files anywhere can save anything created in Office Online to OneDrive. OneDrive is Microsoft’s cloud storage service that’s available anywhere. Almost every major feature from the desktop version of Microsoft’s Office apps are included in Office Online, except a Save button. Office Online saves files automatically.
You can access Office Online from any modern device with a web browser for free here. There are only two catches. First, you’ll always need an internet connection to use it since it’s a website. Second, you’ll need to log into Office Online with a free Microsoft Account.
Windows With Bing & Office 365 Trial
For a longtime, most assumed that Microsoft Office came free with their computer. That was almost never the case. Sometimes PC sellers included a copy of Microsoft Office for extra. Other times, the free Microsoft Office users thought they were getting was really a free trial.
Buyers of Windows 8 notebooks and tablets are the first users who might actually have free Microsoft Office if they purchased wisely. To spur interest in low-end Windows 8 laptops and compete against Google’s Chromebooks, a growing number of cheap Windows 8 tablets and notebooks come with something called Windows with Bing. Windows with Bing is functionally the same as other versions of Windows 8.1, but it also includes a free subscription to Microsoft’s Office 365 service.
Office 365 lets users create and edit documents with desktop versions of Microsoft Office. After that free year users need to pay Microsoft at least $69.99 a year or $6.99 a month to continue using it.
Read: What is Office 365?
In addition to Windows with Bing. There are standard Office 365 free trials available online for any PC or Mac. The Office 365 Personal free trail lasts a month, costs $6.99 a month after and includes access Office on just a single PC. Users get free Office access on a single smartphone and single tablet too. Plus, there’s 1 terabyte of cloud storage. Office 365 Home also has a free trial that lasts a month. It costs $9.99 a month after the trial period and includes access for 5 PCs or Macs and 5 smartphones or tablets. Each user also gets 1 terabyte of OneDrive storage.
Office on iPad and Surface & More
Finally, there are devices that come with free Microsoft Office for life.
Almost all Microsoft-made devices get free Microsoft Office. The Surface and Surface 2 tablets have their own customized version of Office that runs in the Desktop and includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and OneNote. That’s something owners of Surface Pro 3 don’t get.
Additionally, every smartphone that includes Microsoft’s Windows Phone operating system has free Microsoft Office. This version is called Office Mobile, and while it’s not as advanced as some other versions it’s useful nonetheless. Look for smartphones running the Windows Phone 8.1 operating system this holiday to get it.
Finally, there are the free Microsoft Office apps for iPhone, iPad and Android. Until fairly recently users had to subscribe to Office 365 to get their hands on these apps. Now, Office for iPhone, Office for Android and Office for iPad are completely free. Microsoft has already confirmed a version for Android tablets is in the works too.
Good luck with your device purchases this holiday season and don’t forget to take advantage of all the free Microsoft Office versions that are available to you.