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Apple offering Office 365 as an iPad Pro 'accessory'

For the 12.9-inch version, you'll need to pay for a subscription.

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At its recent "Loop You In" event, Apple said that its iPad Pro can replace your "sad' old PC for productivity chores, and it's now selling Office 365 directly to back that up. A Steven Sinofsky tweet spotted by the Verge notes that the "order flow for the iPad Pro includes option to add Office 365 subscription" when you check out, starting at $70 a year. The unusual move means that Microsoft joins Logitech as the only non-Apple accessories available when you order an iPad Pro.

Since Apple is positioning the device as a Surface competitor, it's actually using a Microsoft product to compete against Microsoft to win business users. To make matters weirder, users have to pay for the Office 365 suite on the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, but can get the same product for free with the new 9.7-inch model. That's because Microsoft's mobile Office products are free, provided the screen size is less than 10.1 inches. Owners of the larger device who don't want to pay can still get productivity software in the form of Apple's iWork suite or use Google's Office-like apps on a browser.

The 9.7-inch iPad Pro with the Pencil and keyboard accessories.

The pricey 12.9-inch iPad Pro is in tough against low- to mid-range Windows notebooks and convertibles, but the smaller model could make a dent in the market. At $599 for the cheapest model (plus $169 for the keyboard accessory) it could go up against mid-range Windows models, since users won't need to pay for an Office 365 subscription. Apple's Pencil option could also attract professional artists and illustrators. It remains to be seen if business users will be turned off by the smaller screen, but we should get a better idea soon as pre-orders have now kicked off.

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