Microsoft today confirmed that it will stop supporting its Office suite of Android apps on Chrome OS starting September 18. The confirmation came via a statement to About Chromebooks, where the company admitted that it was “transitioning” Microsoft apps to web experiences in order to provide customers with the “most optimized experience”.
Microsoft’s Office suite of apps made it to Android back in 2015 and has since been updated regularly, bringing loads of features to the apps. It must be noted that that does not change, as the Android versions of the apps will continue to be supported. The change only applies to Chrome OS users, who will now be redirected to use the web versions of apps such as Outlook, Office, and more.
The Redmond firm has for long restricted functionality of its Office suite of mobile apps on larger screens, usually requiring users to subscribe to its Office 365 – now Microsoft 365 – subscription to enjoy additional capabilities on non-mobile display sizes, such as on the iPad Pro and the like. The change for Chrome OS, however, applies to all users, likely due to the efforts required to maintain the Android apps for larger screens.
Here is Microsoft’s complete statement to the publication:
“In an effort to provide the most optimized experience for Chrome OS/Chromebook customers, Microsoft apps (Office and Outlook) will be transitioned to web experiences (Office.com and Outlook.com) on September 18, 2021. This transition brings Chrome OS/Chromebook customers access to additional and premium features. Customers will need to sign in with their personal Microsoft Account or account associated with their Microsoft 365 subscription.”
While the change might also help streamline the options for Chrome OS users, the web versions of the apps are not as feature-packed as that of the native Android offerings. The most significant downside is the lack of offline support, which might serve to be a hassle. While Office and Outlook PWAs can be installed as apps, some functions, such as creating a new document, redirect users to the browser, making it a less viable alternative.
It will be interesting to see if the firm brings more functionality to make the web versions a viable alternative. The company is also working to unify Outlook across platforms by adopting a common web-based experience, which should be a welcome change.