Apple has stepped up its efforts to hit its two biggest rivals — Microsoft and Google — where it hurts.
Apple has opened up a public beta that allows anyone, PC or Mac, to use the cloud version of its office productivity suite, iWork, for free via a browser.
All you need is an Apple ID and Apple is now allowing anyone to create one, no Apple device needed. Just point your browser to iCloud.com.
iWork includes the standard complement of office apps: word processor, spreadsheet, presentation software. The cloud version lets multiple people work on a document at the same time, just like you could do with Google Apps, or with Microsoft’s cloud apps, OneDrive (the freebie version) or Office365 (the paid version).
Apple describes its cloud version of iWorks like this:
Just log in from your browser on your Mac or PC and launch the app you want to use. All the documents you create will be saved in iCloud, and any changes you make will automatically appear in the iWork apps on your iOS devices and your Mac. Your work will always be available at iCloud.com, so you can access your documents anywhere.
The ability to use iWork from a PC on the web is the latest step in Apple’s push to make its Office apps a real alternative to MS Office or Google Apps.
iWork was launched in 2005 as a reaction to Microsoft Office for the Mac. Microsoft often treated the Mac version as a second-class citizen with users having to wait months or longer for updates that were first released in the Windows version.
Apple sold iWork for $US79. Later, Apple sold the individual apps on its Apple store for $US20 apiece for the Mac versions and $US10 each for the iOS version.
In 2013, after all-but-ignoring iWork for years, Apple suddenly updated it and announced it was giving it away for free to anyone that bought a new Apple device or updated to a new operating system. Apple launched a cloud version then, too, but you could only create an Apple ID login on an Apple device, like a Mac, iPhone or iPad.
Apple isn’t just giving away the apps, either. The cloud apps let you open and edit Microsoft Office documents, too.
We recently reported on Google’s plans to nab 80% of Microsoft Office customers away from Microsoft.
Looks like Apple is following a similar game plan.