Microsoft has announced plans to drop support for its dedicated Office apps for all Chromebook owners. These lightweight notebooks are powered by an operating system based on Google’s immensely popular Chrome web browser and have gained a huge following, especially for younger users in full-time education.
These laptops, which are built by a range of manufacturers – from Samsung to Google itself, are all updated automatically with the latest security patches, so can provide less risk than a traditional Windows laptop, which are often targeted by hackers. Chromebook can run Android apps side-by-side with Chrome browser windows.
And it’s the latter that will cause the issue for Microsoft Office fans.
The Redmond-based firm has confirmed plans to transition users away from the Android version of the apps. Instead of these dedicated apps, Chromebook owners will need to use the online version of Microsoft Word, Powerpoint, Excel and more.
According to Microsoft, it has taken the decision to provide “the most optimised experience” for Office users.
Crucially, this doesn’t mean that Android smartphone and tablet owners will see these apps vanish. Although these users will be able to use the web browser versions of the apps, the Android apps will still be available. It’s only on Chromebook that Microsoft is pushing users to the web browser to write their next document, send an email, edit a spreadsheet, and more.
“In an effort to provide the most optimized experience for Chrome OS/Chromebook customers, Microsoft apps (Office and Outlook) will be transitioned to web experiences (Office.com and Outlook.com) on September 18, 2021. This transition brings Chrome OS/Chromebook customers access to additional and premium features. Customers will need to sign in with their personal Microsoft Account or account associated with their Microsoft 365 subscription,” a statement from Microsoft confirms.
While the Android versions of Office apps are designed for smartphone and tablet displays, most Chromebook typically have 11- to 17-inch displays. Web applications, which scale as you click-and-drag the browser window, are much better suited to these devices. Transitioning Chromebook users to the web also means Microsoft won’t have to waste time developing its Android apps to fit Chromebook screens, hopefully allowing it to focus on new functionality for smaller screens.
You’ll need to be a Microsoft 365 subscriber to access all of these Office applications in your web browser.
Speaking about the planned changes coming to Chromebook owners next month, a spokesperson for Google told blog AboutChromebooks.com: “We’re pleased to see Microsoft offer Chrome OS users a more optimised experience and embrace the open web. People love Chrome OS because it provides a speedy, secure, and simple computing experience and helps them stay connected while they work, study and stay entertained.”