Microsoft last week stunned the tech industry when it said it would make some versions of its prized Office software available for free on a number of platforms, including the iPad. The Apple community mostly welcomed the news—except for those who've already paid for a subscription to the apps.
Microsoft apparently got the message. The company said over the weekend that it will issue refunds to iPad users who subscribed to Office 365 Home Premium or Home Personal plans, which range from $7 to $10 per month, prior to the announcement of a free option.
“Yes, you can get a refund,” Microsoft said in a support document.
The way to get money back depends on how the consumer originally purchased his/her Office 365 subscription. Customers who bought access to the online suite from their iPad must contact the Apple iTunes store.
Those who signed up for the software through Microsoft or third-party channels can cancel prepaid subscriptions and get a refund that's pro-rated from the time of cancellation until the subscription’s expiry date. To be eligible, iPad users must have purchased a subscription to Office 365 Home or Office 365 Personal on or after March 27, 2014, and activated it before Nov. 6.
Cancellations and refund requests must be made by Jan. 31, 2015. Refunds may take six to eight weeks to process, and consumers may be asked to provide proof of purchase, Microsoft said.
Microsoft announced the free software plan on Nov. 6. In an even more shocking sign that the old rules don’t apply under new CEO Satya Nadella, the company indicated that the newest, touch-friendliest versions of Office will hit Android and iOS devices before they show up on still-in-the-works Windows 10 products.
The plan is “a major step to bring Office to everyone,” said Microsoft VP John Case, in a blog post.
iPhone, iPad and Android users will have access to well-known productivity applications like Word, Excel and PowerPoint for free through Microsoft’s Office 365 cloud service. The free versions won’t have all the bells and whistles. Advanced features like variable printing and revision tracking will be exclusive to versions accessed through an annual Office 365 subscription, which can cost more than $100.
Microsoft’s immediate hope is to lure users of competing mobile packages to the free version of Office and then convert them to paying subscribers. The plan could pay off significantly. Apple and Android devices accounted for over 95 percent of the more than 1 billion smartphones that shipped worldwide in 2013, according to IDC. Also-rans like BlackBerry and Microsoft’s own Windows Phone scraped over the leftovers.