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Microsoft Releases Preview of Office Apps for Android Tablets

Microsoft released a preview of Office apps for Android tablets today, including Excel, Word and PowerPoint.

Users of Android tablets can sign up to try the new Office apps preview at this page. Microsoft expects to have a "general availability" release of Office apps for Android tablets sometime in "early 2015."

The preview just works on Android tablets running the KitKat operating system release. Microsoft isn't seeking testers using Android Lollipop at this time. The sign-up page also cautions testers that "you will need to avoid any system updates to the OS on your device to continue to participate."

There's also a device hardware requirement. Users need to have an Android tablet screen size of 7 inches to 10.1 inches.

Microsoft also has a OneNote for Android app available. It's not new, though, having been released in August.

Users of Office apps on Android tablets will have the capability to create and edit documents for free when the productivity suite reaches general availability. Microsoft today also extended those same free creation and edit capabilities to Office apps users on the Apple iOS platform, although using certain "premium features" requires having an Office 365 subscription.

Update: it's worth noting that Microsoft didn't distinguish between free use for consumer or commercial users in its announcements on Thursday. However, its Office licensing doesn't permit the use of consumer Office apps for business purposes, as pointed out in a blog post by Wes Miller, an analyst with independent consulting company Directions on Microsoft.

Microsoft also makes Mobile Office for Android smartphones, which is already available, although you can't create documents using it. You can just view and edit them, according to Microsoft's Office on devices product description. Mobile Office document creation is also not available for Windows Phone devices, although you can edit docs. The use of Mobile Office for iPhones allows both document creation and editing.

With today's announcement, Microsoft has now enabled touch-based Office apps on both the Apple and Android platforms for mobile devices. The company also revealed today that touch-based Office apps for Windows 10 will be coming. That project is still under development, and Microsoft didn't provide any more details, although it released this video today, briefly showing all three platforms in action. Windows 10 is thought to be planned for release on new devices in summer 2015.

Microsoft's early Windows 8 push was heavily focused on enabling touch-based Windows Store Apps, formerly known as "Metro" apps. However, getting its Office apps to be touch friendly on Windows has been taking Microsoft some time to accomplish.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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