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Microsoft Drops Office for Android Smartphones

Redmond rolled out Office for Android-powered tablets in January. Now, Microsoft is finally releasing Office apps for the Android phone.

That means if you’re using a Samsung, LG, HTC or some other Android smartphone you can tap into the power of Word, Excel and PowerPoint apps on the run. All you have to do is download them from the Google Play store.

Kirk Koenigsbauer, corporate vice president for the Office Client Applications and Services team, said the rollout completes “the Office experience for the millions of Android users around the world.”

Adding Third-Party Storage

The Office apps for Android should work well out of the gate. Microsoft offered an Office for Android preview five weeks ago and tested the apps on 1,900 models of Android phones in 83 nations. Microsoft listened to user feedback and incorporated it into the final release.

“For example, we made it easier to connect to other popular third-party storage offerings like Google Drive and Box, as well as many usability adjustments to make it easier to navigate commands within the apps,” said Koenigsbauer.

Last week, Box announced “deep integration” with Microsoft Office Online that will let users more easily open, edit and save Office documents. Box is already integrated with Office for iPad, iPhone and Outlook for iPhone and iPad applications.

What Can You Do?

So what exactly can you do with Office for Android on your smartphone? Clearly, it’s not the same experience as on a PC but you can do plenty on the fly, especially with the phablet-size devices.

“I often need to squeeze in quick reviews in between appointments during the day. I can review documents in full fidelity, read comments and then easily add my own,” said Koenigsbauer. “I love just bringing my phone to a meeting to present wirelessly. PowerPoint for Android phone gives me the same transitions, animations and design that I would have from my desktop, and I can even use inking to highlight important points while presenting.”

Koenigsbauer also noted that he can find the document he was working on in the office from his phone and even see where he was last working.

“We’ve partnered with over 30 global, regional and local OEMs such as Samsung, Sony, LG and many more, to pre-load these apps on Android devices,” he said. “Many of these devices will be landing in retail stores later this year.”

Priming the Office Pump

We caught up with Wes Miller, an analyst at Directions on Microsoft, to get his thoughts on the Office for Android rollout. With the exception of the final release for Windows 10, which we’ll see late next month, he told us we now have the full gamut of standalone apps across iOS as well as Android tablet and smartphone devices.

“This is the beginning of Microsoft’s real push to say we are cross-platform,” said Miller, noting that when Windows 10 and Windows 10 mobile launch we’ll see the release of the Office standalone apps for those platforms.

But how many people are really using the iOS and Android apps? Or does it even matter at this point? Miller said Microsoft wisely chose to bifurcate its strategy to basically enable consumers to get the fundamental experience for free. Then if they want to use Office in business to create documents, they will have to pay for it through an Office 365 subscription.

“In general, we get consumers and students in particular using Office to create documents on devices,” Miller said. “Then in business we start to see more adoption of Office 365 because people can take their documents with them and access or edit them on almost any device now.”

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