New mystery message in Office apps on Chromebooks

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Chromebook users are getting unexplained messages when they use some Office apps, leading to rumors about Microsoft Office support of Chromebooks.  Microsoft isn’t helping by their silence but the signs are not good for paying Office customers with Chromebooks.

It all started when Chromebook users reported getting pop-up messages and it was reported by WindowsUnited.de the translated message said:

Go to Office.com
This version of the Office app is no longer supported. For the best, most up-to-date experience with this device, head over to Office.com“

Naturally the Internet forums and social media rationally and calmly examined this news in context.  We’re kidding.  The net exploded with rumors about how Microsoft was abandoning Office Android apps in favor browser only Word, Excel and PowerPoint on Chromebooks.

Thankfully, Kevin Tofel at AboutChromebooks.com, added some much needed rational thought.  He realized the message was only appearing for the stand-alone Word, Excel and PowerPoint mobile apps on Chromebooks.  NOT the Office mobile app, what we call the ‘all in one’ app to make a clear distinction.

The Office Mobile app (for Apple or Android) combines Word, Excel, PowerPoint and other features (like Lens) into a single app.  It’s officially called just ‘Microsoft Office’ app though it’s now subtitled “Word, Excel, PowerPoint & More” which is helpful.

The new message seems to suggest that Microsoft is moving away from the standalone mobile apps (at least for Chromebook), preferring customers use the ‘all in one’ app.

But if that’s true – why point customers to Office.com not the combined Office mobile app?

Why does the message say the app is no longer supported? There’s been no announcement about dropping support for the separate apps or Chromebooks.

Microsoft Silence

You might think that Microsoft would be eager to clarify the situation, if only to reassure or explain to their paying customers.  But no, there’s been silence from Redmond.  Most likely that means there’s negative news to come which the pop-up message (accidently?) previews.

It would be bad for customers if Microsoft is dropping the standalone Office apps for Word, Excel and PowerPoint.  The standalone apps allow much easier switching between documents than within a single app.

IF (big IF) Microsoft is dropping the Word, Excel and PowerPoint mobile apps in favor of the combined app, it’ll be for the benefit of Microsoft not it’s millions of paying customers. 

Having only a single combined app will save Microsoft development and maintenance costs. 

Chromebook users will just have to wait until Microsoft decides to communicate with the people and organizations that pay them.

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