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Microsoft makes Office for iPad free to use, starts testing Android tablet version

Considering how popular Office has been on the desktop, you'd assume it'd be the go-to productivity suite on mobile too. In fact, though, the company has made a few missteps: The iPhone app is watered down, and as nice as the iPad version is, you need an Office subscription to do any sort of editing. Fortunately, though, Microsoft is changing course: The company just announced that it will offer basic editing as a standard feature on the iPad, the same way it already does on Android and the iPhone. Keep in mind that you'll still need an Office 365 subscription to unlock certain advanced editing tools, but most of those are probably better-suited to business users anyway.

Additionally, the company is beginning public beta testing on its first-ever Android tablet app, which will see a wide release early next year. The software, which includes standalone Word, Excel and PowerPoint apps, is still in development, but what we've seen so far suggests the apps have feature parity with the iPad suite. Also like the iPad app, it will include basic editing tools for free. You can sign up for the preview today, but it may take a while before you get a turn: Microsoft says it plans to add users gradually, with an eye toward testing a wide variety of devices.

Oh, and lest you think Microsoft forgot about its own Windows OS, a company spokesperson told us the touch-friendly Windows version is still in the works, but that we probably won't see it until Windows 10 launches next year.

Finally, Office for Mobile for iPhone has gotten a huge redesign -- so huge, in fact, that the app as you know it no longer exists. That watered-down application is gone and in its place are three standalone programs for Word, Excel and PowerPoint, each of which has the same robust tool set as the iPad version. Except, you know, some of the features here have been optimized for the iPhone's smaller screen (think: a "Reflow" mode that makes it easier to view formatted Word docs on a 4.7-inch display). Those are available for free starting today and again, you don't need a subscription to format text and make other basic edits. Have fun, and be sure to check out our hands-on screenshots.