‘Free’ Microsoft Office Apps Officially Launch For Android Tablets

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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Microsoft Office apps graduate from preview programme, but there is no support for Lollipop and Intel chips

Microsoft has officially released Office applications for Android tablets that allow users to create and edit documents without an Office 365 subscription.

Word, Excel and PowerPoint apps have been available for three months now as part of a preview programme, but all have now graduated from the testing phase and available through the Google Play store.

“The three-month preview program was incredibly important to our development efforts–not just in generating helpful ideas, but also in testing the apps on the wide range of Android tablets across the world,” said Kirk Koenigsbauer, corporate vice president, Office 365 Client Apps and Services.

Office 365 Android

Microsoft Office Android Tablets 2“The preview program itself generated more than 250,000 downloads for all the apps across 33 languages in more than 110 countries. We had 3,000 Android device variants covering more than 500 models with different sizes and hardware capabilities. There was high engagement with 80 percent of people trying the apps. With 30,000 active users in various communities, we received a constant flow of feedback.”

To download the apps users must have a screen size of between seven and 10.1 inches – anything larger will require a subscription – an ARM based processor, 1GB of RAM and be running Android version 4.4 KitKat.

Microsoft has committed to providing support for Android Lollipop and Intel processors in future updates.

Android smartphones have been able to use Office apps since 2013 but require an active Office 365 subscription in order to gain full functionality. Applications for iPhone and iPad are also available as part of a change in strategy by Microsoft, which had long touted the availability of Office on Windows Phone and Windows 8 tablets as a unique selling point for the platforms.

Microsoft strategy

However it is now keen to get Office in the hands of as many people as possible in a bid to sell more subscriptions to Office 365. It stresses that the best Office experience is only possible with a subscription, touting features like OneDrive storage.

Last year, the company launched Office 365 Personal for home users, having had businesses packages available for some time. Office 365 has received a number of updates in recent times, with users now available to take advantage of unlimited storage and mobile device management (MDM) features, while developers now have access to more APIs for new applications.

A new version of Office for Mac is expected next year, while development of a touch-enabled version of the productivity suite for Windows 10 is well underway.

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