Think twice about buying the new 10.2-inch iPad if you’re a frequent Microsoft Office user.
Microsoft’s rather strange policy on tablet use will almost certainly mean you’ll lose out on free Office access if you upgrade to Apple’s newest slate. And a subscription will cost you $9.99 a month.
Office remains the go-to productivity suite for millions of professionals and students worldwide. Cheaper alternatives are available, but few offer the same level of functionality.
Microsoft generously allows many tablet users to enjoy Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and the rest of the Office suite completely free. But there’s a big catch — and it leaves new iPad users out in the cold.
Microsoft Office isn’t free on 10.2-inch iPad
You can enjoy core editing features in Microsoft Office completely free of charge if the device you’re using has a screen size of 10.1 inches or less.
That means Office is free on every iPhone and iPad mini, millions of Android devices, netbooks and compact laptops, and even the 9.7-inch iPad. But it won’t be free on the new 10.2-inch iPad.
The larger screen means Apple’s new tablet is ever so slightly too big to qualify for free Office use. You will have to fork out $9.99 a month or $99 a year for a paid Office 365 subscription.
Will Microsoft make an exception?
Given that the new iPad is only 0.1 inches too big, and that this could affect millions of Office users on iOS, Microsoft could make an exception. But it seems very unlikely.
We’ve reached out to the company to find out whether its policy could be changed and we’ll update this story if we get a response. It’s worth noting OneNote and Outlook are always free to everyone.
As things stand, the policy could be enough to dissuade Office users from upgrading their iPad at this time. That additional $99 could spoil the tablet’s attractive $329 price tag.
Of course, there’s always the free iWork suite.