One of the key differences between a Windows tablet and one that runs Android, iOS, or another operating system is that you can run Microsoft Office on a Windows tablet (along with thousands of other classic Windows apps).

Up until recently if you wanted to do that though, you had to buy a copy of Office on your own dime or pick up a Windows RT tablet like the Microsoft Surface RT which came with Office preloaded.

But there could be another option soon: Just buy a small, cheap Windows 8 tablet like the Acer Iconia W3.

Acer Iconia W3 with keyboard

Microsoft has announced that it will office Office 2013 Home & Student for free to companies offering Windows 8 tablets with 7 and 8 inch displays.

Office 2013 Home & Student normally sells for $140 and includes Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote. It does not include Outlook, Access, or Publisher.

While there are plenty of free or inexpensive alternatives to Office including LibreOffice and Google Docs, Microsoft’s office suite is still pretty much an industry standard, so if you need to make sure you can open, edit, and create documents and don’t want to worry about whether your teacher, boss, or friend will be able to use them, Office is still a pretty safe bet.

So bundling Office with upcoming small tablets could be a good way to increase the value of these little computers — although you may need a full-sized keyboard (like the one that Acer will offer for its Iconia W3) to take full advantage of the bundled software.

Meanwhile, Microsoft will continue to offer Office for free to Windows RT users — and the company has announced that when Windows 8.1 launches later this year users will get Outlook 2013 RT for free as well.

Outlook will be available when users download and install the free Windows 8.1 update on their RT devices, and it’ll likely be included on tablets and other devices that ship with Windows RT in the future.

via The Verge

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10 replies on “MS Office will be bundled on small Windows 8 tablets, Free Outlook coming to Windows RT”

  1. I’ve been thinking that as much as I prefer Android or iOS over Win8 as a tablet OS, it might be worth getting one of these small Win8.1 tablets to use as a portable desktop. With 22″ HD monitors often available for $100 or so, and wireless keyboard/mice combos often well under $50, I can keep “desktop” hardware in Ohio (where I travel 1 week a month) and then carry a tiny 8″ tablet instead of my 17″ laptop. Free Office would be icing on that cake and make it pretty cost effective, especially if the new Merrifield based tablets are under $500.

    1. Full Windows 8 would be under the Bay Trail Tablets… While Merrifield will replace Medfield and Clover Trail+ for mobile phones and similar devices that will be running primarily Android.

      Bay Trail will also come out first, starting just before the end of this year, while Merrifield isn’t due out until sometime during the first half of next year.

      On costs, yes, there should be tablets well below $500… Even 2 in 1, hybrids, are expected to be around $399 and a pure tablet would usually be even less…

  2. >so if you need to make sure you can open, edit, and create documents and don’t want to worry about whether your teacher, boss, or friend will be able to use them, Office is still a pretty safe bet.

    This is wrong. It’s the pre-cloud way of doing things.

    Online office suites are much better for this (google docs, OX Docs, even Office web apps on skydrive/hotmail).

    No one needs to install anything. Just have a browser and an email , that’s it.

    Sharing is easier, even collaborate online. Docs stay in the cloud and not in some messy folder in your pc which you most likely forget to backup also when your computer dies…

    People need to stop promoting “Offline suites” and specially msft office extension which is closed and many times incompatible with everyone else, or we’ll never get out of this old imposed monopoly.

    1. Nope, cloud isn’t automatically a better solution…

      Cloud can still crash (they’re still running on computers, just not locally), can still lose your data (crash or worse company goes out of business), can still get hacked but unlike your home systems the hackers can attack the cloud server 24/7 and not just when you’re online!

      While Cloud services rely on how reliable your access to the Internet is, and that can vary wildly and not everyone has broadband or public WiFi!

      Services like Google Docs also don’t support all the standards of Office and that makes it risky converting files.

      Potentially less privacy as you can’t ensure no one else could get access to your files or whether Google or other companies will just outright spy on you like they’ve been caught doing a few times already!

      Besides, Office is available in the cloud too with 365 but it’s still preferable to run natively, which also gives you better performance options than running something off the cloud and worrying about whether there are too many people using the service at the same time or not, etc…

      1. I didn’t say cloud is perfect yet, I know It’s shortcoming since am a sys admin.

        I was talking more about the sharing component.

        Many still believe today that if one doesn’t buys or has purchased msft office, he/she will not be able to share documents with anyone.

        This is far from the truth nowadays. I know a lot of people who are not using or don’t need it anymore.

        Most of them don’t need more than the basics and the alternatives can do this just fine. Even in the classroom, most students don’t need more than the basics.

        My folks specially were relieved when they started using online office suites just with their browser. They were always confused by the “offline file explorer” and had always an incredibly messy file system.

        So pleased in fact that they decided to get a chromebook and a tablet.

        But I think I was the happiest since the support calls and tech visits diminished by like 80% 😉

        Anyway, I know “offline” can be better and faster for some things, and is why Libreoffice has in it’s roadmap a hybrid (office 365 like) model that lets you do things offline, but makes sharing as easy as G-docs or skydrive office web apps (so anyone can view/edit a doc in the browser without having to install anything extra).

        Also google is working on “packaged apps” that make cloud apps act / behave and save things locally if needed. So, Yes things will improve.

  3. Finally a good mail client on Win RT. The bundled mail client sucks. Hopefully its not crappy metro UI.

    1. Seems to be a direct port… also looks like they got other Office features being ported to RT too, though it’s unknown if they get released at the same time as the Outlook update or not…

  4. I hope RT gets dropped and Windows 8 becomes universally available to both ARM and x86 then we just have to download either universal binaries or ARM/x86/x86_64 ones.

  5. I expect Windows RT tablets to hit the bargain bins at some point. Either people won’t buy them or Microsoft will decide to drop them in favor of full Windows tablets when hardware becomes good, fast and cheap. At that point I will probably pick one up. It should be good for general web surfing and media playback. I expect Microsoft to keep improving Windows RT until they decide to pull the plug so RT tablets should be pretty good by that point.

    1. MS is pretty much dedicated to supporting RT for at least 4 years… It really depends on whether or not Intel can displace ARM for most devices that will be running Windows or not.

      Since ARM is still dominant in the mobile market and may make progress into the PC market, MS has little choice but to offer something to hedge their bets or be left out in the cold if the reverse happens and ARM starts to dominate the lower end PC markets… it can still go either way right now, though it does look good for Intel…

      The differences between RT and Windows 8 may blur during that time though… RT getting the 8.1 updates is a good sign that RT will start to become less limited and they may start pushing for greater app capability that could possibly start letting 3rd party desktop apps run on RT…

      Higher ARM SoC performance in conjunction with features like Hardware Virtualization support could allow more options that MS couldn’t have taken advantage of before… So we’ll have to see how it goes…

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