Microsoft says Office iPad apps hit 12 million downloads a week after release


After announcing the release of the Office for iPad apps late last month, Microsoft announced today that the separate Word, Excel and PowerPoint apps for iPad have collectively reached 12 million downloads a week after release. The number also included downloads of the OneNote app for iPad, which has been available for a couple of years leading up to the release of the Office apps, but Microsoft didn’t provide a breakdown of sales by app.

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It wasn’t long after release that Microsoft’s three new Office apps for iPad hit the top of the free App Store charts thanks to a ton of promotion from the announcement, decent reviews, and a nice big banner on the top of the App Store from Apple. The apps are free to download, but require a $99/year subscription to unlock full editing features.

Microsoft has been doing its own promotions for the launch too, such as handing out free Office 365 subscriptions to iPad users at retail locations.

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  1. Did anyone notice, other than me, that they didn’t mention how many subscriptions they got out of those 12M?

  2. Brad Stoecker - 9 years ago

    and about that same amount deleted the app after they figured out nothing works unless you subscribe.. what a joke.

  3. Mr. Grey (@mister_grey) - 9 years ago

    This actually sounds pretty bad to me. 12 million downloads, three apps, means actually 4 million people were interested in the apps. Of those, likely only a few actually bought Office.

    And to all those idiots saying “I don’t want to rent my software, I want to buy it” … software is *always* rented, it always has been and always will be. When you “buy it” you are just buying access to it (renting it), you are not buying the actual software.

    You don’t own it, and you can’t re-sell it. The issue isn’t buying vs. renting, it’s just whether or not the value you receive is equal in your mind to the price you are paying.

    • tpetaccia - 9 years ago

      First of all .. hear! hear! I cannot agree with you more on the “I don’t want to rent software …” debate.

      But on the 12 million downloads, I think that is significant – one way or another. You have to be using Office apps in one form or another to use Office for iPad – or else they are just taking up valuable iPad real estate. If you don’t have a 365 subscription, then all you can do on the iPad is view and present documents .. but you still have to using Office somewhere else to create them .. either via desktop apps (Mac or Windows) or via the free Office Online. And if you are doing that, MS has at least achieved its first objective .. to get you to stop (or not start) using Google Docs or the Apple iWork suite.

      Of course, if you do get a Office 365 subscription, you can create and edit docs directly on your iPad, a convenience for you .. and it puts money directly into the MS coffers – which is their ultimate goal.

      Either way .. it’s significant.

      • Mr. Grey (@mister_grey) - 9 years ago

        I’m not saying it lacks any significance at all, but it’s really “something less than 4 million” downloads. For instance where I work everyone (20 or so individuals) downloaded all three apps. Some portion of those (not me) had an Office subscription already that let them activate it so they did. I didn’t do a poll but my impression was that maybe four people activated.

        No one else, me included deleted the apps, because despite how annoying they are as a viewer, you never know if you might need it someday. So on paper that’s 20 or so downloads. Microsoft will count this as 60 of the 12 million, but in reality it’s roughly 4 individual people.

    • Lance Newcomb - 9 years ago

      Actually, thats false. You are BUYING a license (even if the software is free). Selling the Installation disk AND deleting all installed copies was transferring the ownership of that license. With digital downloads that is no longer practical as there is no physical material to transfer and thus no way to know if you are getting a genuine product.

      With “Free to play” and “Subscription” based software you are buying an intentionally crippled product and renting its full functionality, thus making any potential license transfer by the license owner have no value.

      The only exception is if the EULA explicitly states the license is “non-transferable”, such as in the OSX Mavericks EULA, section 3-B.

      No matter the case, rental software is an extremely bad deal. Downloading it, even the free version and never buying the subscription, only supports that bad business model and will push more developers to use that format in the future.
      Just say no to rental and “Free to play” software.

    • That’s not correct (re: renting vs buying). When you buy software, you are buying a license to use that software on a single computer (or however many computers you pay for). Microsoft even describes it that way: you can either buy a license for so many computers of pay for a recurring subscription. You’d have to be an idiot to think buying a license is akin to renting. But that’s not even the point. What “those idiots” are saying is that they would rather pay a higher upfront cost once versus paying for a subscription year after year. It’s a matter of preference.

      • Lance Newcomb - 9 years ago

        What “those idiots” are saying is they would rather pay $100 up front and be done with it rather than pay $100/year for the rest of their life.

        Yes, that is the definition of a rental, if you stop paying the fee you stop getting functionality after the rental period is over.
        Same with buying/renting a car. You can either pay $300/month forever to lease a car or pay $20,000 and own it outright in 6 years.
        After 6 years, you’re giving them money for doing nothing. Same with the software, after the first year you’re paying Microsoft $100/year for literally doing nothing.

        And tell me, is there ANY iPad app honestly worth paying $100/year to use? Seriously, to edit documents.

      • cjred (@cjred) - 9 years ago

        Yes it is a meter of preference. Anyway that $100 a year does include no only access for iPad apps, But Desktop apps are included as well. Yah from me i’m fine with the Office 365 subscription and best of all i don’t have to keep garbage (packaging) in my small place.

  4. Kieran Navickas - 9 years ago

    This goes to show you that there is still a huge demand for MS products. I will admit it. I bought a subscription. Apple needs to wake up and work on the iWork offerings and look at giving us those solutions that we crave from MS, like an iPad File Explorer (Fuck the cloud. I need files on my iPad not dependent on any connection. Goodreader is a cheap solution. We need an Apple solution).

    • ikir - 9 years ago

      ICloud files are always in your device too, iCloud just synch them. iWork is a wonderful office suite.

    • PMZanetti - 9 years ago

      Don’t kid yourself. You bought a subscription because it was something new to try, not because it’s actually good is in high demand.

      • Gregory Wright - 9 years ago

        Say what you will about Microsoft, their Office products are top shelf. It appears being an Apple fan, at least some, can’t be objective in their evaluations.

      • PMZanetti - 9 years ago

        I’m sure it IS a really good App Greg. Not worth $99 a year when iWork is free…but again, it probably is a good app.

    • Tallest Skil - 9 years ago

      Nope. It shows there is a download for Microsoft products. The only meaningful statistic is the number of Office SALES.

  5. Ezhik - 9 years ago

    I had Office 365 before this came out, so I can use these apps properly, and they’re very good.

  6. Noticias del Camino - 9 years ago

    I downloaded because:
    1. it was free
    2. I only need an app able to open Excel’s Dynamic Tables on iPad or iPhone (do not need Word nor PowerPoint).
    3. Dynamic Tables doesn’t work on the Excel app.
    4. I don’t think I will ever use any of this Microsoft apps.
    How many if you are in the same situation?

  7. It would be much more than 12 million if they allowed all countries to download Office for iPad. I don’t know why Microsoft did not release the apps for all countries..

  8. Damn Tastic - 9 years ago

    I had Office 365 before this came out, so I can use these apps properly, and they’re very good.

  9. akufu - 9 years ago

    It would be very interesting to find out how many of these people simply deleted the app once they released they had to buy an Office 365 subscription.

  10. PMZanetti - 9 years ago

    12 million FREE downloads of an unusable set of Apps. ZERO subscriptions, because no one would pay $100 a year for that crap.

    • dksmidtx - 9 years ago

      The only “crap” is crap statements like this. Word was in the top five list of gross sales the weekend after release – that’s a LOT of in-app subscription sales, not to mention the vast majority of us out here that already had Office 365 subscriptions that we added the iPad software. How in the world you come to the conclusion of zero subscriptions is mindless drivel. Remember the immortal words of your icon idol – Steve Jobs – Microsoft doesn’t have to lose for Apple to win – and enjoy the fact that your sainted iPad is still the best tablet on the planet.

      • Tallest Skil - 9 years ago

        So where are the stats on these sales? Because there aren’t any.

      • PMZanetti - 9 years ago

        Think about that for a minute. Word made it into the top 5 grossing. Every subscription was a $100 purchase. Ask yourself. How hard would it be to get there, when most other apps have $1-$5 average in-app purchase? Honestly, the fact that they didn’t all TOP those charts on their release day was an embarrassment.

        If you’re going to try and cite numbers/stats in a certain context….make sure they make sense first.

  11. Office apps are nowhere to be found in Top Grossing (at least in Ireland) which really makes me wonder… how many people actually bought a subscription through iPad apps…

  12. jerryfromcan - 9 years ago

    All fine and good. As a PC user and MS-user, I’d like a smaller annual sub than being forced into Office 360. Office 07 is fine for my home use.

    • This is a good temporary measure, but this won’t be viable for ever. There are plenty of other alternatives like Libre Office,, Google drive, iWork (can be used online with iCloud account if you don’t have a mac), Kingsoft Office and heaps of others.
      Just like microsoft is loosing badly in the Personal Computer market to iPads and Mac’s which combined have seriously out-grown entire sales of entire PC product lines and everyone knows how poorly microsoft windows phone is doing.

      What I am saying is, it would be sensible or at least safer to find an alternative such as what I have mentioned above, as things become incompatible with the current office and/or businesses and everyone else switches.
      When I was at school, all the new computers as well as those that had just been upgraded ran
      Microsoft Office is too expensive to keep uptodate with.

      • jerryfromcan - 9 years ago

        I think that’s the point really… They are too expensive to keep up with, so they go for the rental model. Only, home users don’t remotely need the latest. I am a very high end user of Excel, and I still can’t think of a good reason to go beyond 2007 (2007 was landmark in that you broke the 66,000 lines to 1 million lines of data per sheet).

        Everyone on here is down on MS, but Excel is still the best thing out there for spreadsheets. I couldn’t care less about what version I use of the rest of the suite, but Excel is the only spreadsheet software for me.

  13. How many of those downloads actually signed up for the stupid Microsoft 365?

  14. People are going to stop using office if this is Microsoft’s new outdated business model.
    Make Software Free like Apple!
    People will find alternatives like iWork which works extremely well with iCloud, Libre Office, Open Office, Google Drive and plenty more!

    Microsoft really needs to take a good hard think is their greed more important than retaining the majority of their customer base!
    If this is microsoft’s answer to piracy then this is a huge mistake!

    Make the software free, so people all around the world can improve on it!
    It is insane to think that forcing people to use the distribution channels that companies make available is viable. You don’t gain any customers by being a bully.

    Look what happened to motion pictures industry, they lost badly, so many people pirate because they are fed up that the industry hasn’t adapted.
    Luckily the music industry got their act together before it was too late and has made a great leap ahead in keeping up with the evolving technology whilst maintaining a viable business, well sort of… They still have work to do.

    If Microsoft is going to continue down the path the motion pictures industry took, they too will loose and no onee will be sympathetic to their wining complaints about piracy when it is their own fault for not adapting to the consumer needs.

    Just to get things clear, you an still make money with free software!

    What is Free Software?

    “Free software” is a matter of liberty, not price. To understand the concept, you should think of “free” as in “free speech”, not as in “free beer”.
    Free software is a matter of the users’ freedom to run, copy, distribute, study, change and improve the software. More precisely, it refers to four kinds of freedom, for the users of the software:

    The freedom to run the program, for any purpose (freedom 0).

    The freedom to study how the program works, and adapt it to your needs (freedom 1). Access to the source code is a precondition for this.

    The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbor (freedom 2).

    The freedom to improve the program, and release your improvements to the public, so that the whole community benefits (freedom 3). Access to the source code is a precondition for this.

  15. b9bot - 9 years ago

    It will be interesting to see if all of those read only free downloads turn into $99 paid 365 subscriptions especially considering the app can’t even print. iWork is free and it can print. The numbers maybe skewed with Microsoft giving out 1 year free promotional 365 subscriptions at the moment. What happens a year from now maybe quite different.

  16. b9bot - 9 years ago

    Word on a computer has already been established. So sales might be higher right now. However the mobile market is much different. Most apps don’t cost more than $50 and that’s a permanent sale, not a subscription.
    And you can print from your PC, but you can’t from Microsoft’s mobile app even with that $99 subscription. To have to pay every year for it is down right robbery. iWork is free and you can print from it without a subscription. You still get updates to features and fixes for bugs. So why pay $99 for something that can do more for free?

  17. Rashid Nooristani - 8 years ago

    $100 a year for Office 365 subscription, not apps for iPad/iPhone/iOS.
    For $100/year, you get access to O365, that means u can use Office docs on Desktop (Mac, Windows), iPhone/Android, Tablet etc. and store them in cloud.

    I would rather pay $100 for a premium product than those free ones. I have tried free ones like Evernote, but always come back to OneNote.


Avatar for Jordan Kahn Jordan Kahn

Jordan writes about all things Apple as Senior Editor of 9to5Mac, & contributes to 9to5Google, 9to5Toys, & He also co-authors 9to5Mac’s Logic Pros series.