We started to hear murmuring lately that the Microsoft Office app for Android wasn’t working for many ChromeOS users who are using the Beta build of Android apps for ChromeOS. Thanks to 9 to 5 Google we now have some clarity around the situation. In a statement, Microsoft has the following to say:
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.
So, that’s it sorted, right? End of issue, right?
Well not quite. It has always been the case that Microsoft’s free app was technically only free on devices 10.1″ and smaller, and since there were very few devices bigger than that, it wasn’t ever enforced. Android Apps on ChromeOS has changed all of that. In a further statement from Microsoft, the software giant offered the following explanation:
After signing in with a free Microsoft account, the core viewing, creating, editing and printing experience is free in Office apps for iOS, Android and Windows 10 Mobile, on devices 10.1” or smaller. An Office 365 subscription enables scenarios where consumers want to do things that go beyond the basic freemium experience such as using track changes in Word, Pivot Tables in Excel or Presenter View in PowerPoint. You can find a list of premium features on your iPad and iPhone here, a list of premium features on your Android phone or tablet here and on your Windows Mobile device here.
On devices larger than 10.1”, an Office 365 subscription is required to unlock the ability to create, edit or print documents.
I have to admit, I’m ok with this. Microsoft Office is one of the world premier productivity suites, and the product is not openly distributed for free; free versions of the service are supposed to be restricted to a specific device size of 10.1″ and under.
Now, there are arguments to be made that people who own outright versions of an Office product are being disadvantaged, and they can not access the mobile version on most ChromeOS devices, however, this is the business model Microsoft is using, if people don’t like it they are free to use other services, for instance, the online productivity tools provided to consumers by Google, ie Docs, Sheets and Slides.