Microsoft has confirmed that it plans to suspend support for its Android Office apps on Chrome OS. While that still means you’ll be able to access them on Android-based tablets and phones, you won’t be able to download them from the Play Store on your Chromebook.
The company is currently issuing the following notice to Chrome OS users who use Office Android apps on their devices.
So why dump support for Office Android apps on Chrome OS? Microsoft wants you to use its web-based Office apps instead. Starting September 18th, that’ll be the only way you can access your Office files in apps like Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.
There’s one glaring issue with that plan, however, and it’s a serious lack of offline support. Microsoft’s Office web apps don’t offer offline functionality (besides Outlook). That means if you want to access, edit, view, or interact with your files at all, you’ll need an internet connection.
Notably, Microsoft says in a statement to About Chromebooks that it will give Chrome OS users “access to additional and premium features” when the change takes place. I’m not sure if that means offline support or more expansive features in general, but something will be added to (hopefully) accommodate for any inconveniences it causes.
“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. More information is available here.”
It remains to be seen as to whether Microsoft will improve the experience of its web apps before they’re pushed as the superior productivity suite for Chrome OS, so I’ll let you know if I hear anything.