Microsoft has announced that the Office apps for Android won’t update for older versions of Android.
These are the Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook apps for Android.
Quietly, the system requirements were changed to cover only the last four major versions of Android.
Misleading news alert
Despite what you may have read, the Office apps will NOT stop working on older Android releases. There will be no updates (feature or security) but the apps should continue to work.
Which Android versions?
The following versions of Android will support Office apps from 1 July 2019:
- Android 9 – Pie: released August 2018
- Android 8 – Oreo: August 2017
- Android 7 – Nougat: August 2016
- Android 6 – Marshmallow: October 2015
Check your device to see which Android release is running (usually Settings | About | Software Information). If you bought a new device in the last few years, you should be OK for a while.
What happens on 1 July 2019?
Nothing! Office apps will continue to work for all Android devices.
But if you have an older Android version, there’ll be no more updates for new features or security/bug problems. Over time that could become a problem.
Later this year, Google will probably release the ‘Q’ Android platform. Sometime after that, Marshmallow (v6) will lose Office app support for updates.
Why does Android get more?
The policy change covers the last four major Android releases, in effect the last four years.
Compare that to Office for iOS and Mac which only supports the last two OS releases (the current and previous only) or around two years.
Why do Android users get more time and versions than Apple customers?
Mac users update their devices more often so the vast majority of iOS and MacOS users have the latest operating system or its immediate predecessor.
Android is a different story, there are customers spread across many past versions. It has many different hardware makers all releasing OS updates on varying schedules (if at all).
The last four versions of Android cover about 80% of current users but the last two versions less than 50%.
Microsoft’s policy for both platforms means the majority of users are supported.