Upon reading the news that Microsoft has decided to make Office Mobile free for Android phones and iPhones, I decided to check it out to see how it compared with Google Drive and Quick Office. While I wanted Office Mobile to be a good alternative to Google Drive and Quick Office for Android, unfortunately it is just not. There are a few "show stoppers" that will keep me from making the switch to Office Mobile, at least until Microsoft fixes them.

There is no way to change the font in a document. You can make text bold. You can highlight text. You can even add comments to a Word document, but there is no way that I can see that you can change the font. Quick Office and Drive allow you to change fonts. I realize that this is a small thing for some folks, but for me, it's a deal breaker.

You cannot save documents to the local file system. Your only option for saving documents is to connect with Microsoft One Drive and save them to the cloud. However, this means that you always need to be online. Now, given that we are talking about an app on a phone, where being offline is rare, there are times when I am not in an area with an Internet connection. In contrast, Quick Office allows me to create and save a document anywhere to my phone's local storage. As an example, using Office Mobile, I opened a spreadsheet that I had previously created with Quick Office and saved to the local downloads folder on my phone. I could edit the spreadsheet with no issues, but when it was time to save, the only option I had was to save a copy of the spreadsheet to One Drive.

Right now, Quick Office and Google Drive simply work for me. These two apps allow me to get done what I need to get done, and they are easy to use. I really want to like Office Mobile. The UI is clean and intuitive. The app also seems pretty snappy on my G2. Unfortunately, as it currently stands, Office Mobile does not bring anything to the table that makes it better than its competition, and it is thus not a truly compelling replacement for Quick Office and Drive. Don't get me wrong. I would love to see Office Mobile improve, because competition and choice are good and necessary things. Think about it. If there is no competition, there is no reason for Google to improve their offerings. As history tends to repeat itself, I am reminded of what happened to the state of the web browser after Netscape's demise, before Firefox came along.

However, I am afraid time may be running out for Microsoft. Office Mobile is too little, too late. I say that because Google has improved Drive so much to the point where I really can't make a sound argument as to why you should even use Office on the traditional desktop. Unless you are a hard core Excel guru, or have to use Office in a corporate environment, Google Drive is simply good enough, and with Microsoft already so late to the game in the mobile space, people have already found really good apps to use for productivity on their iPads and Android tablets. If Microsoft does not improve Office Mobile enough to give folks a compelling reason to use the product, it will soon be game over.

Update... Apparently, while Office Mobile does pretty much force you to use One Drive, it does have offline capabilities. To test this, I went into Airplane Mode on my phone and opened a recently created document. I made edits to it, and when I saved, I got a note that it would save a local copy.