Microsoft wants Chrome OS users to use Office web apps, not Android apps

Starting September 18, Microsoft will end support for the Office and Outlook Android apps in Chrome OS and will instead push Chromebook users to its web apps. a statement it gave About Chromebooks. Still on July 31, Microsoft Support Documents recommended to install the Android versions of Office, Outlook, OneNote and OneDrive, but now those documents say: that the apps are not supported for Chrome OS users.

if About ChromebooksHowever, Kevin Tofel points out that the move to web apps complicates the offline situation for Office users. Although certain Office web apps, like Outlook, have a special offline mode, Tofel reports that offline it is not possible to open existing documents with Microsoft’s progressive web app for Chrome OS. While Chrome OS does offer some offline editing capabilities for Office files, it does not provide the real Office experience like the android apps did while disconnected from the Internet.

Microsoft was not immediately available to answer questions about what offline functionality the Office web experience for Chrome OS offered, or whether improvements would be made before the switchover in September.

For those who are always online, the switch from Android to web app may not make much of a difference. For the most part, the web version of Office offers many of the features you need for basic word processing, spreadsheets, and presentation creation – although I’m certainly not one who doesn’t prefer web apps.

Microsoft’s statement to About Chromebooks doesn’t really elaborate on why the company is making the change, though it does say that Chrome OS users will be able to access “additional and premium features”. (It’s worth noting that Chrome OS users could already use the Office web apps if they so choose.) Tofel reports that this change doesn’t mean Office for Android will disappear for phone users. We’ve reached out to Microsoft to confirm and let you know if we hear anything.

It’s ironic that Microsoft is stopping Chromebook users from running Android apps on their laptops since Windows 11 will have support for running Android apps. That said, the functionality of Android apps on Chrome OS has long been criticized and even Google has replaced some of its own apps with PWAs on the platform. Most PWAs are only useful if you have a live internet connection, but that’s not really the case for apps like Office. Hopefully, Chromebook users will be able to return the option for an offline experience after the switch.