Microsoft Office for Chromebooks, With a Slight Catch


There was a time when tech giant Microsoft derived most of its income from the Windows operating system; these days, the Microsoft Office business productivity suite is the company’s biggest earner, accounting for 28 percent of its revenue. For this reason, it is not surprising to learn that Microsoft is doing everything possible to ensure that its Office products can be accessed from just about any platform, including Chromebooks.

On November 27, owners of Chromebook laptops that support the Google Play store noticed that three Microsoft Office apps suddenly became available. Microsoft Excel, PowerPoint and Excel can now be installed on devices powered by updated versions of Chrome OS; however, the option to save documents and edit attachments is only available to those who pay for Office 365 subscriptions, which start at $7 per month for personal use.

Over the last few months, Google has been working on porting over the Play store and its millions of Android apps to Chrome OS. Earlier in 2017, owners of newer Chromebooks noticed that their systems had been upgraded to access the Play store, but not all apps were available, and some of them look awkward on the larger display. This is not the case with the Microsoft Office apps for Chrome OS, which look great on full screen mode and are actually superior to the equivalent Google Drive apps.

Early reports of users trying out the Microsoft Office apps on their Chromebooks have been very positive. The apps feel much better than the web version of Office 365, which are optimized for the Microsoft Edge browser but not so much for Google Chrome. Being able to work on Word or Excel offline documents will certainly be a motivating factor for many individuals to purchase Office 365 subscriptions, which is what Microsoft is focused on at this time.

Interestingly, Microsoft has also started to offer Android smartphones that are optimized for use with Office apps and with other mobile products developed by the company. This decision was made after Microsoft decided to stop development and production of the Windows 10 Mobile operating system, a decision that left many users of Microsoft smartphones feeling left out.

Some tech analysts believe that Microsoft is concerned about the Chrome OS platform increasing its reach; to this effect, the release of the Surface laptop with Windows 10 S, a restrictive operating system similar to Chrome OS, is proof that the company will not let Google gain too much market share.


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