Microsoft has recently moved its Office suite of Apps to Android and iOS operating systems. There are alternatives too that help you edit and maintain your official documents on your mobile device, writes Karthik Subramanian

Microsoft has finally made available its Office suite of Applications on Android’s Google Play store last week, following its launch of the Office Mobile for Microsoft Office 365 subscribers on Apple’s iOS platform in June. The App for Android is currently available only in the U.S. (since July 31), but Microsoft has mentioned in its official blog that the rollout will happen across the globe in the coming weeks.

This has been a change of tack from the guys at Redmond, because for long it was whispered, and at times even spoken aloud in public, that they would try and keep the Office suite of Applications exclusively Microsoft. The launch of the Surface mobile devices last year only fuelled this speculation that Microsoft would keep one of its most highly-used software inside a walled garden.

But whatever be the politics that led to the change of mind, mobile users will only rejoice at the availability of the App. For too long now, Microsoft Office has been the golden standard when it comes to office documentation. But there are other players too. Here is how they all stack up.

Microsoft Office Mobile: Microsoft Office is available now on mobile for iOS (iPhone and iPad) as well as Android devices. To access the App, one needs to have a registered Microsoft Office 365 account, the subscription-based cloud services that come with core Apps such as Word, Excel, Powerpoint and OneNote, Outlook email service, apart from 20 GB of SkyDrive storage. The Office 365 Home Premium annual subscription costs Rs.4,200 and will allow users to access the suite of Applications across 5 PCs or Macs, and on mobile devices.

The pricing is pretty steep, but then this is probably the most used Microsoft application suite across spectrum. And a good deal for the faithful.

iWork: Apple’s productivity suite for mobiles — Pages, Numbers and Keynote — are available on iOS devices as individual Apps, priced at Rs. 550 each. Though as easy-to-use as Microsoft Office, somehow iWork suite has not really measured up to Microsoft Office because Apple has not been putting out enough upgrades over the years. But it is still a favourite among Apple fanboys. The good thing is that the iWork suite works well when it comes to sophisticated editing challenges — placing photos and graphs in the text, etc. For those who have Macs, the decision to work with iWork suites on their iOS devices too is a no-brainer.

Google Drive: It is free, flexible and easily available everywhere you go. Over the past year, Google Drive users have come to swear by the service because of its ease of use and reliability. The Google Drive App for iOS and Android has a clean, minimalistic interface. Though it is not feature-rich like Microsoft Office 365 or any of the iWork Apps, Google Drive is pretty much all one needs if just a small article or a simple spreadsheet would do. The best part is, of course, that it is free.

Documents to go: Documents To Go from DataViz is one of the earlier productivity suites on the mobile platform. It allows users to edit and create word, excel and powerpoint files, and view PDF formats. It allows users to store their documents on any third-party cloud service of their choice. Interestingly here, there is integration with services such as Evernote and Dropbox. Other services such as Microsoft Office and iWork will by default store your documents on their own SkyDrive or iCloud services. Some users prefer the flexibility. Documents to Go is available in two iterations — Premium at Rs.950 and Standard at Rs.550.

Zoho Corporation: Zoho Corporation has its entire suite of Apps available on mobile platforms too which are worth checking out. Their cloud services rival that of Google and are, in fact, better for some functional reasons. And like Google Drive, they are free and easy to work on, especially if you are collaborating with large teams. Teams, like even a small newsroom, could live entirely on their suite of Apps — ranging from Zoho Docs, Zoho Projects, Zoho Vault (password protection) — and can move seamlessly to the web-based services offered by the company on their PCs.