Earlier this week we caught word that some Chromebooks with Play Store access were being blocked from downloading Microsoft’s Office apps, specifically on the ASUS Flip. Obviously, this caused some controversy among Chrome OS fans. Thankfully, it seems Microsoft isn’t doing that after all…

Backing up a bit, some ASUS Chromebook Flip owners were reporting that Microsoft’s apps such as Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and OneNote were displaying a message which stated that the app was “unsupported on this device.” We later confirmed that the Acer R13 Chromebook wasn’t affected by that issue, but the question still lingered ─ is Microsoft going to block Chromebook owners from using the Office suite for Android?

The fortunate answer is that Microsoft will allow Chrome OS owners to use the Office suite for Android on their machines. Right now some users are seeing support blocked because Microsoft is working with Google to improve the experience while the Play Store is still in beta.

Our strategy has not changed. Office for Android is supported on Chrome OS devices via the Google Play Store. While Google Play on Chrome OS is in beta, we are partnering with Google to deliver the best experience for Chromebook users and plan to make the apps available on all compatible devices by general availability. 

However, there will be a restriction in place. If your Chromebook has a display larger than 10.1-inches ─ which is most of them ─ you’ll be using a restricted version of the suite. Without an Office 365 subscription, you won’t be able to create, edit, or print documents. For ASUS Flip owners, that means full, free access to the Office suite, but you’ll need a subscription on any other device. The quote below explains this and Microsoft confirmed to us that this also applies to Chrome OS devices with Play Store access. Better than nothing, right?

After signing in with a free Microsoft account, the core viewing, creating, editing and printing experience is free in Office apps for iOS, Android and Windows 10 Mobile, on devices 10.1” or smaller. An Office 365 subscription enables scenarios where consumers want to do things that go beyond the basic freemium experience such as using track changes in Word, Pivot Tables in Excel or Presenter View in PowerPoint. You can find a list of premium features on your iPad and iPhone here, a list of premium features on your Android phone or tablet here and on your Windows Mobile device here.

On devices larger than 10.1”, an Office 365 subscription is required to unlock the ability to create, edit or print documents.

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Ben Schoon

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