What You Need To Know
Microsoft is ending Chromebook support for Office Android apps, requiring a switch to the web versions for the best experience possible.
Microsoft is ending Office Android app support for Chromebooks soon. Google developed the concept of the Chromebook to be powerful enough for most users, while not requiring high-end specifications and expensive devices. Chromebook laptops and other Chrome OS devices are popular within schools due to this low-cost approach, however, home use and business usage have grown also and more powerful models are available with features that rival Windows Laptops.
In the early days of the Chromebook, the operating system consisted of little more than a web browser, likely the reason for the budget-minded laptop’s name. This began to change as time went on and Chrome OS continued to evolve, first getting web apps, before eventually gaining the ability to run Android apps. By 2018 Linux apps were added for newer Chromebooks as a beta option and that feature recently became part of the general release this year.
Microsoft Office is a critical suite of apps for many and it’s available on a Chromebook thanks to the operating system’s Android compatibility feature, but that capability seems to be going away in the near future. According to AboutChromebooks, some users have seen an alert that the Android app is no longer supported, with the recommendation to use the web app instead and Microsoft confirmed this to be the case with users being transitioned to web experiences on September 18, 2021. The web app uses OneDrive for storage and while a sizable 5 gigabytes is included for free, it does require a Microsoft account and a subscription if more is needed. For reference, Chromebooks users will still be able to use the apps, they just shouldn’t expect any future updates to come through.
Best Way To Run Office On A Chromebook
The Microsoft Office Android app doesn’t provide the same robust set of features found in the desktop apps available on Windows and Mac computers but it’s a good solution for most common uses. Microsoft Office for the Web is actually quite similar and in some ways more convenient since it is designed specifically for a laptop or desktop screen, whereas the Android version is intended for use on a smartphone or tablet. Something unique to the native apps, those designed for iPhone, Android, Mac, and Windows computers, is the ability to save documents locally.
Another nice thing about a native app is that it can be used when offline. Microsoft’s Office web app can technically be installed as a progressive web app, allowing offline use, however, it severely limits which documents are available, depending upon the number and size the user draws from. Most Chromebook owners will need to use be connected to the internet when using Microsoft Office and for most convenience should save files to OneDrive. While documents can be downloaded, any changes would require uploading again, and if this step was forgotten, work could be lost.
It will make the most sense to simply commit to using office.com to create and edit Office documents with a Chromebook in the future. Free usage is available, up until OneDrive storage reaches the 5 gigabyte limit, after which a subscription will be required. Microsoft does have very affordable pricing, however. While Microsoft’s support for Android apps on a Chromebook is ending in September, Office for the web will be a good alternative for the majority of users.
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