Microsoft has released Office apps that work on Chromebooks, the low cost laptops using Google’s
Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote apps are now available for most, if not all, Chrome OS users. There seems to be some teething troubles with the Office apps and the Google Play store.
Redmond hasn’t exactly shouted about this extension of Office. They’ve been uncharacteristically quiet. Various Chrome users and specialists like Chrome Unboxed stumbled upon the Office apps in the Play Store.
Free for some
Microsoft is applying the same rules about what’s free in these Office apps as they are in Apple and Android devices.
It’s all about the screen size:
Screens 10.1″ and smaller
Office apps are free and fully functional.
Screens over 10.1″
The Office apps are ‘read only’.
An Office 365 subscription is necessary to enable editing, creation and printing.
Since most Chromebooks are over the magic 10.1″ mark, an Office 365 link is needed to make full use of the apps.
Of course, you might not need to buy an Office 365 plan. An existing Office 365 Home or Personal account includes full access to the mobile apps. The Office apps (Apple, Android or Chrome OS) don’t count towards the ‘1 install’ (Personal plan) or ‘5 install’ (Home plan).
What to do?
If you have a Chromebook, check the Chrome store to see if Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote apps are available. Not the “… Online” apps from live.com
Getting a Chromebook? Now you have one less excuse for not buying. You might want to double-check that the model you want supports the Office apps (it should but just to make sure).
Chromebooks are cheap … mighty cheap. A cheap Chromebook is well under US$200 while a high-end model from Acer or Samsung is under $450.
Originally Chromebooks relied on an Internet connection to do almost everything. There was little on-board storage space on the assumption that everything is saved in a cloud drive.
These days the apps can worked offline with storage of 16GB or 32GB which isn’t a lot but enough for the needed documents, images and videos. There’s usually standard USB-C for power and output to a larger screen.
Microsoft is countering the popularity of Chromebooks in two ways, the Office apps and the release of Windows 10S a cheaper but more limited version of Windows 10.