The preview of the free Microsoft Office for Android apps that arrived in limited form last year, is now available to anyone and everyone with a compatible Android tablet no matter the brand or form factor.
Microsoft confirmed it was expanding the free Microsoft Office for Android preview to new swaths of users this morning. As of right now, Word for Android, Excel for Android and PowerPoint for Android are all available for users to download from the Google Play Store. Users simply login to each app with their Microsoft Account for a list of their latest documents and spreadsheets. Microsoft already has a stable version of its OneNote note-taking app available for Android tablet users.
Microsoft announced that it had new versions of Microsoft Office for Android on the way earlier this year. At the time, users weren’t excited Microsoft Office’s future on Google’s mobile operating system. Office Mobile was already available on the platform for some time. This version of Office lumped all of Microsoft’s major Office apps into one solution. In order to use the app users had to login with their Microsoft Account and purchase an Office 365 subscription. Office 365 costs $6.99 a month or $9.99. That pricing depends on how many devices users need Microsoft Office on.
All of that changed when Microsoft revealed Office for iPhone and iPad. At that point the company introduced versions of Word, Excel and PowerPoint all tailored for a touchscreen. Whereas Microsoft Office Mobile for Android required users have an Office 365 mobile subscription, the new Office for Android apps don’t require a subscription at all. Instead of charging users up front, Microsoft made Office free for everyone to use on a mobile device. The company seems to be banking on locking users in now and worrying about sales later.
The updated free Microsoft Office for Android preview is good news for a lot of Android users, but not every Android user. For starters, Microsoft still isn’t ready to release the apps in final form. It’s opening up the preview program so that it can get feedback, but the company wants users to know that the app is still a work in progress. These updated apps are only for tablet Android users who have a screen that’s between 7-inches and 10.1-inches. Luckily, Android Lollipop users are in look. The last version of the Microsoft Office for Android preview didn’t support Android Lollipop. This one does, along with Android KitKat, the previous version of Android running on everything from tablets to smartphones.
Office for iPhone and Office for iPad are already available. With Office for Android already available in a wide preview, Microsoft’s own Windows Phone operating system remains the odd one out. It used to be that Office was a big advantage for Windows Phone; every version of Windows Phone has come with a free built-in copy of Office. Having Office built into the operating system seems to have hindered progress in past years. With Windows Phone 8.1 Microsoft decoupled a lot of its apps from the main Windows Phone operating system. Even still, Office for Windows Phone remains woefully inadequate.