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The iPad Pro is too big to get Office apps for free, says Microsoft


Current iPad owners can download Microsoft Office apps free of charge, using them for both viewing and basic editing – but that won’t be the case with the iPad Pro, Microsoft told arsTechnica.

Office on the iPad Pro will require an Office 365 subscription for any and all editing. That’s because Microsoft defines a 10.1 inch cutoff. Anything below 10.1 inches is a “true mobile device” and as such qualifies for free access to the core editing capabilities. But above that threshold and it’s not a “true mobile device” any longer, it’s something else entirely, and it will need an Office 365 subscription as a result … 

The 10.1-inch cutoff appears in the licensing terms for both Windows and Android devices, but not yet for iOS – presumably because Microsoft was a little slow to respond to the announcement of the iPad Pro.

The company has not yet revealed exactly what will happen when an iPad Pro user attempts to run the apps.

Microsoft updated its iOS Office apps last month, and yesterday launched a new iOS scheduling app.

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  1. mojodk - 8 years ago

    Fair enough – nothing is free in this world.

    • Sahil Malik - 8 years ago

      I’m probably going to get flamed for this comment on a pro apple site, but, surface vs. ipad pro

      – 12″ screen vs 12.9″
      – Imperceptably higher resolution
      – iPad pro with cover and pencil and Office365 will cost significantly more
      – Weight is approx the same
      – iPad Pro will probably have better battery life, but Surface can double up as a laptop with extensible storage, USB ports, displayport (4k) etc.etc..
      – The OS, and W10 vs iOS, W10 is NOT that bad, especially when it comes to multitasking work.

      Call me crazy, but I’m not seeing a very compelling argument for iPad pro. iPad Air2 right now is the sweetest buy IMO.

      • Trendon Ellis - 8 years ago

        To be fair, you are absolutely right. At the moment of purchase – the surface has better specs and what not, but that loses relevancy about a year in when the surface starts to become “Last gen” and becomes unstable/slow. Whereas apple users have come to accept lower specs and sometimes limitations on functionality for the sake of longevity and user/customer experience. Think about it: people are just now replacing there iPad 2. I don’t see any other tablets OR laptops that are (albeit slower) completely usable. I believe in the right tool for the right job. I crunch numbers on a PC, I game(usually on a PC), and i own a surface which is the BEST network support tool I have. But I design on my Mac, and I manage my life on my iPad and i am open to the idea of a larger iPad allowing me to do some design work on it, though skeptical. People often fail to realize that its not that these two companies are pandering to two different demographics, its two different workloads. I just happen to appreciate both. AND competition will help keep them both on their toes a win/win in my book.

        Honorable mention: The jury is out for me on Linux, I’m learning my way around it so ill reserve judgement, but i do run it on my Mac via parallels.

      • PMZanetti - 8 years ago

        You forgot the fact that it’s an iPad.

        Nobody wants a surface, that’s why Microsoft is writing them off at a loss

      • Will Van Gelderen - 8 years ago

        PMZanetti – The Surface RT was considered a failure and a write off. The Surface Pro 3 definitely not, especially since they are now coming out with the Surface 3 and soon the Pro 4. Its an amazing device. Stop spreading that fud

      • Bria (@_xxfoxtail) - 8 years ago

        My SP3 i5 runs pretty slow when I have multiple tabs in Edge open. I purchased it because I needed something to do some light digital artwork on. Works okay, but the iPad Pro and the Apple Pencil looks like it’ll be great combined with my favorite digital art app, Procreate.

      • PMZanetti - 8 years ago

        @Will Van Gelderen

        Has Apple ever written off an iPad at loss? Please.
        It’s a second-rate product that has no real place in the world. I’m familiar with the 9 people who have actually purchased one…and they did so because they need the most portable device they can get that runs Windows. Everything else about it is a compromise, from the hardware to the software to the general compatibility with the Windows world. It is NOT a great product, and that comes from seeing people struggle to justify their decision once they begin to use them.
        If it were a great product, I’d have no problem saying so. It’s not. I have nothing against microsoft or windows. The Surface is just…not a good product. Desktop OS on a semi-mobile device is a failure from the start, and there is no getting around that.

      • Will Van Gelderen - 8 years ago

        It all depends on your needs, and clearly Microsoft still has a perception problem getting people to switch back to their eco system. I’m about to get a Surface Pro 3 for work. I can run full Adobe Suite, my Cad software, render software on it, multi monitors and yet still have the tablet/ portable functions I need. The iPad pro is still a secondary device for most pro’s and would be for me.

      • triankar - 8 years ago

        No, Sahil, I’ll second you.

        In my opinion, this year Apple should have released their own equivalent of the Surface, hardware-wise, running OS X, not iOS. The Surface’s major downside for me is that it runs Windows.

        Now, we have two half-baked products instead:
        – the retina MacBook: an underpowered and port-limited “laptop” (dare I say “hipster-focused” ???)
        – the iPad Pro: a big tablet good for touch-based input and drawing, finally with a good stylus (sorry, pencil), but iOS and iOS apps are far from ready to replace laptops in a work environment. Certainly not mine. And I can’t mount a usb drive on it (and neither does AirDrop work reliably enough)

        If there was a Surface equivalent running OS X, I’d be the first to buy it. But right now I’m sticking to my rMBP. I really can’t see how either of these devices can win me over it.

        But we all know Apple is too proud to copy Microsoft (at least so openly), and so now we’re stuck with their egoistic take on the matter: the aforementioned two half-baked products.

      • jimgramze - 8 years ago

        The surface is a laptop with touch features. The iPad is a touch-based device. I don’t think they can be fairly compared. What excels on an iPad and what excels on a Macbook Pro are very different things. I only “flame” you for making a wrong comparison. Compare with a Macbook model and I’ll listen.

      • Thesp Little - 8 years ago

        @PMZanetti Silly wabbit fanboy, surface pro 2 and 3 are ideal for designers/illustrators. That’s the big market for the Surface pro series. iPad can’t run full Adobe. And nice avatar.

      • Matthew Fox - 8 years ago

        The difference between surface and iPad is with surface your windows installation halves you usable storage by 50 percent. A 32 gig surface is really a 16 gig surface. This is why it has a memory card I guess, when you buy an iPad , iOS only takes up 18 percent or so. My 32 gig iPad has 26.4 gigs of usable storage. Hey if apple wants to take your 32 gig iPad Air 2 and make iOS take up 75 percent of the memory , there’s nothing stopping them
        Too me it looks like the difference between iPad and surface pro is mostly software. Surface got so afraid of AT&T locking their tablets , that they gave up. I hear and don’t make cellular models anymore. While Apple forces the phone carriers to play fair, and continues to sell cellular enabled tablets to this day.
        In the entire history of the iPad, Apple never made one that was locked to a particular carrier, unless you call the iPad 2 Verizon cdma iPad locked. Meanwhile Microsoft was locking theirs. Tablets are pretty much exempt from unlocking requirements. It is now September 25, and my AT&T exclusive PlayStation vita is locked to AT&T to this day,

      • Matthew Fox - 8 years ago

        Meant to say I hear they don’t make cellular models anymore. Type and by accident

      • Matthew Fox - 8 years ago

        I read posts all the time about how people, say the 16 gig iPhone does not have enough room. People say Apple should stop selling them.
        Can you imagine a Microsoft surface phone ? It would have 0 bytes free when you turn it on. It wouldn’t be like an iPhone and give you 11 gigs.

        I borrowed a Samsung s6 16gig and that one even had less usable storage then an iPhone.

      • Robert Dupuy - 8 years ago

        W10 is that bad.

      • Paul Mustard - 7 years ago

        Conveniently failing to mention the Apple ARM processors starting to outpace i5, and the USB and HDMI dongles that have always been available for iPad. For my money I don’t want an OS that is half-heartedly defended as “not that bad” call me crazy

    • Samuel Brownfield - 8 years ago

      Apple’s OS and office apps are free.

  2. standardpull - 8 years ago

    In the back room, it is clear that something like this was said:

    “The iPad Pro is damaging our hardware line’s reputation even with our most ardent corporate supporters. We have to dent up the iPad Pro by penalizing its customers, just like we have done with MS-Office for the Mac over the past 20 years. We still have an Office software monopoly. Our shareholders want us to continue to use our monopoly for our profits.”

    • mrobertson21 - 8 years ago

      This could have been funny if not for the fact that the article clearly states that Microsoft had this policy before the iPad pro.

      • Charlypollo - 8 years ago

        Ahh you try to fight random nonsense with an informed fact. Your kind is not welcome in this place.

      • standardpull - 8 years ago

        You’re wrong.

        Microsoft created this “neutral policy” after the iPad pro was well known to the industry (and just about everyone else).

        In fact, the iPad Pro was strongly rumored for a 2014 release, with parts showing up all over the place and strong chatter in the valley.

        Microsoft does have industry intelligence – but it took very very little brain power to predict the Pro.

    • bigbenzilla - 7 years ago

      I plan to get an iPad Pro myself, but as a business student I do feel inclined to ask… “You do know the only reason Microsoft software is available on OSX and IOS is because it was in the agreement when Microsoft bailed Apple out of bankruptcy just before the iPod/phone

  3. hydrovacing - 8 years ago

    Seems as MS is out to lunch as usual but that won’t surprise anyone.

    • rafterman11 - 8 years ago

      Why should MS give away its stuff for free? They aren’t a charity.

      • Jonny - 8 years ago

        It’s not that they should give stuff away for free, it’s (at least to me) these kinds of restrictions and “rules” make Microsoft unappealing (again, to me). It’s confusing to a typical user why the app would be free on one of their iPads but not free on the other iPad. Not that different from all of their versions of Windows where the Home edition had features x and y but if you want z you need Pro… but if you buy the Enterprise version you get x, y, z, and a… but if you have a netbook you only get x.

  4. Liam Deckham - 8 years ago

    As soon as sales stop, they will announce that it is free, and all the suckers who paid will be like “shit”. – This is exactly what happened when these crAPPS came out for iOS – then they went free. Come on silly Micro$oft – tricks are for kids

  5. Howie Isaacks - 8 years ago

    Office is no longer a necessity. The ONLY reason why I have an Office 365 membership is because I have to support Microsoft’s crappy apps for my customers. They’re SOL if they want to get support from Microsoft. I’ve tried. Every time I’ve called them, it has been an infuriating waste of time. I have successfully got one customer to start using Pages, Numbers, and Keynote. Hopefully, that will catch on. Of course Apple could help the process by adding more features to Numbers.

  6. rav4Kar (@rav4kar) - 8 years ago

    makes sense!! MS needs fair share too!!

  7. Paul Andrew Dixon - 8 years ago

    If you watch the keynote where microsoft are invited on stage – the guy demonstrating has a big grin… it’s almost like they were showing this off but hadnt told anyone that they will charge for it…

    If their ipad pro apps are full versions – then ok… but if they are a ‘mobile’ cut down version, then it’s a bit of a con…

    BUT apple could actually fix their apps — apple should offer a best all round experience, not say “we have this awesome tablet that is great for office work…but we dont have awesome office apps, so we suggest using our competitors…oh, but they will charge you… we were hoping you wouldnt find out until after you bought the tablet….darn it”

    I think apple have made the same mistake that microsoft did with surface – they advertise this ‘great’ device but they sell just the core product which is essentially and over size tablet — they slap a huge price tag on it — but to fully appreciate the device and get a full experience, you will need to buy the additional products… It should automatically come with the pencil and keyboard case…

    This would be like shipping the apple watch without the straps – you can still use it, but not get the full advantage from it.

    personally i find little use for the ipads – they are not good for reading (screen glare and poor lighting) and the bezel makes it difficult to hold… it’s not ideal for gaming (theres only a few games suitable for ipad, others are either oversized cellphone games, or games with poor controls)… there no decent office apps – if you need to do real work you need a laptop/desktop… the cameras are not great for photos or videos – plus video editing on them is annoying (again, use a laptop/desktop)… they are pretty much out dated, over priced, and the market has been filled by phablets… there are only certain areas that they are used in, although even then it’s not a great experience…
    i go to a phone shop and they are using the ipads – they are tip taping and trying to input stuff – a laptop you would have it on the desktop, click the icon, and type quicker with a real keyboard… half the time i just want to snatch them out of their hands and throw them… they use them at the apple stores and it really annoys me…

    strangely i did own the original ipad, the ipad 2, and then the ipad mini — i tried desperately to like them and find a use – but in the end i would either use my phone or laptop

  8. gshenaut - 8 years ago

    Does that mean that the iPad Pro version of Office will be fully compatible with the desktop version instead of being a repackaging of the online version? For example, will its Word be able to use styles?

  9. acjeffers - 8 years ago

    No thanks Microsoft! Apple’s iWork Suite does the job, and does it exceptionally- for FREE.

  10. TJ Maher - 8 years ago

    people still use Microsoft Office?

    • This is what I was thinking! I haven’t used it for at least 2 years. I write all my college papers on Pages now. It’s on all my devices, saves to iCloud so I can access it anywhere. I don’t understand why anyone would pay to use Microsoft Office when there’s free alternatives. Apple, Google, Open Office, etc.

  11. demotricus - 8 years ago

    I like the look of it and will probably get one, but purely because I use the many Music synthesizers and DAW`s available for ipad. The latency is spot on with my two ipads and the bigger screen size will make it a nice tool for music making. That said, I use a PC for my mainstream computing and run windows 7, I`m familiar with it and it works. Microsoft Office has never floated my boat because there are free alternatives that do all I need, (Openoffice & cloud based free alternatives). Why Pay if you don`t need to.

  12. Samuel Brownfield - 8 years ago

    Office – pfft. I’ve been using Word all my life up until a couple years ago when I got a Mac and started using Pages…. works great! Just like Word… and it’s free.

  13. Dave West (@DaiWest) - 8 years ago

    “borrowed a Samsung s6 16gig and that one even had less usable storage then an iPhone.”

    You are either telling porkies to make Samsung look bad on an Apple thread or you borrowed another Samsung phone. The S6 does not have a 16gb option, the base models begin at 32gb. Samsung 16gb models (e g. S5) usually have 9gb available once the OS has taken it’s (stupidly high) share. On the other hand, I went to a friends today to sort out their iPhone 6 with 16gb on board and was alarmed to see there is only 4.9 GB free?! This was new out of the box too – is this even right???

    My girlfriend has the new Rose Gold 6s (64gb, safe option!), lovely phone but it is really pink!

  14. vkd108 - 7 years ago

    Cut the knot! Stop being repressed and controlled by needless “bloatware”! Simply use Apple’s Pages, Numbers, Keynote etc., or any other of the abundantly available free ‘office’ type apps. (Note: 95% of the extraneous functions in the MS apps you never use. Think about it.)


Avatar for Ben Lovejoy Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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