Microsoft has made a concerted effort over the last couple of years to provide solid cross-platform support for all of its applications and services. Indeed, supporting iOS and Android along with their Windows 10 ecosystem is a cornerstone of its “cloud-first, mobile-first” productivity solutions strategy.
Chromebooks have always been a strange outlier. While users of Google’s Chrome OS-based notebooks have always been able to access Microsoft’s Office Online products, there has never been a dedicated app like the Office Mobile suite that has long been available for iOS, Android, and Windows 10. That is about to change, albeit in a roundabout way, as 9to5Google reports.
Relatively recently, Google added the ability for Chrome OS to run Android apps and access to the Google Play Store. The move dramatically increased the value of a Chromebook, providing the minimal notebooks with sudden access to hundreds of thousands of Android apps. Microsoft’s Office Mobile apps for Android are among those that should now be available to Chromebook users.
However, some users ran into issues downloading Office Mobile on their Chromebooks earlier in the week, leading to some speculation that Microsoft was deliberately blocking the apps. As it turns out, it is the opposite, as Microsoft has since stated, “Our strategy has not changed. Office for Android is supported on Chrome OS devices via the Google Play Store. While Google Play on Chrome OS is in beta, we are partnering with Google to deliver the best experience for Chromebook users and plan to make the apps available on all compatible devices by general availability.”
It is important to note the kind of Chromebook an Office Mobile app, be it Word, Excel, PowerPoint, or OneNote, runs on is an important consideration. While Microsoft lets users edit Office documents for free using the apps on devices with screens smaller than 10.1 inches, larger devices must have an active Office 365 subscription to edit documents.
Clearly, Microsoft recognizes the growing influence of Chromebooks, which continue to sell at volumes that make them a small but growing portion of the potential market for Microsoft’s productivity solutions. And so it should come as no surprise that Microsoft is working closely with Google to ensure that when Chromebook users are editing documents, spreadsheets, and presentations, and taking notes, that they are using Office Mobile.