The hockey puck has moved over to the iOS and Android side of the fence over the past few years, and Microsoft has finally skated there - even if the famed Canadian ice hockey player Wayne Gretzky would skate to where the puck would next be.
Where the puck will next be is yet to be seen - I’m not Wayne Gretzky - but at least Microsoft is finally skating in the right direction to where the bulk of today’s mobile users are - even if Microsoft hopes to win them all back in the future with Windows 10, just as the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus have won back many who switched to Android, who have now switched back.
That’s a lot of metaphors I’m mixing, but I’m guessing you know exactly what I mean.
In any case, we no longer have to put Microsoft on ice in the fear that we’d be stuck with Windows 8 forever and that MS Office would never come to non Microsoft platforms, because the Microsoft of 2015 is finally and thankfully changing a great deal from its days under Steve Ballmer or even Bill Gates - or at least, so it would seem.
The proof is in the Windows 10 pudding, as well as the fact Office for iPad delivered a truly great Office experience, and now it on ‘general availability’ for Android devices.
The news comes little more than a week after Microsoft previewed versions of Office for Windows 10 fully optimised for touch and mobile devices at its 21 January 2015 Windows 10 consumer preview launch.
Microsoft says Word, Excel and Powerpoint ‘have been specifically designed and built for the Android platform’, with Microsoft specifically designing for touch and, within each app, prioritising ‘the most important features for mobile or tablet scenarios.’
Here’s a 90 second video of Office for Android in action:
If you’re a consumer and have ‘an eligible Office 365 subscription, [you] will also have access to full editing features and OneDrive or DropBox storage’.
Commercial Office 365 subscribers will ‘also have the ability to save their documents to commercial storage (OneDrive for Business, DropBox for Business and SharePoint), use enterprise-grade security, IT management tools like MDM for Office 365, and the latest business features and functionality, including commercial use rights.’
But what do you get for free? Microsoft says ‘all other users will be able to create and print documents and perform core editing functions free of charge,’ which is good news!
The Office apps can be downloaded at the following links: Word, Excel and PowerPoint
More information on system requirements and features is at the Office blog here, but we have some additional details below, along with information on Outlook for iOS and the new Outlook Preview for Android.
Now, if you thought Office for Android was already available, it was - but only in a preview version.
Microsoft says ‘the preview program itself generated more than 250,000 downloads for all the apps across 33 languages in more than 110 countries’, with ‘3,000 Android device variants covering more than 500 models with different sizes and hardware capabilities’.
To use Office for Anroid, you’ll need a device with a screen size of 7-inches or larger, although ‘a device with screen size greater than 10.1 inches will require an Office 365 subscription to create and edit’, with ‘an ARM based processor and 1 GB RAM or above’ and Android KitKat 4.4.x.
Android Lollipop 5.0 can run Office for Android, and while it’s not fully supported yet, it will be ‘in a subsequent update’.
Also Intel and Android users running Intel-powered Android tablets will be pleased to know that Microsoft says it is ‘committed to supporting Android devices with Intel chips via a native implementation that will be available within a quarter.’
So, what about Outlook for iOS and the new Outlook Preview for Android, also available today?
Outlook is Microsoft’s email, calendar, contacts and even files client, and these new versions replace the previous OWA (Outlook Web App) for iPhone, iPad and Andrdoid, although Microsoft does state that ‘businesses who want features such as IRM should continue to use the OWA for Devices experience on phones and tablets for the near term,’ with the promise that ‘these advanced features will be coming to Outlook on iOS and Android in the coming months.
Microsoft says the new app ‘works with all major email services (including Outlook.com (and Hotmail, Live and MSN), Exchange Online, Exchange Server (2007 SP2, 2010, 2013), Office 365, Gmail, iCloud and Yahoo! Mail, and is free for personal use, and qualifying Office 365 subscriptions will enable commercial use rights for businesses.’
For cloud storage, Outlook connects to OneDrive, Dropbox, iCloud, Google Drive and Box. We will be updating Outlook to connect to OneDrive for Business.
Outlook for iOS requires iOS 8.0 and above and Android OS 4.0 and above - unliked Office for Android which requires KitKat 4.4.x as a minimum - at least for now.
Here’s a 69 second video of Microsoft’s Outlook for iOS in action:
Microsoft answers some questions in its Office blog (listed below), with one listed as ‘why is the app called “Outlook Preview” on Android?’
The answer is that ‘the iOS version of Outlook is ahead of the Android version in terms of features and performance. Once we have completed sufficient work on Android to close the gap we will remove the Preview label.’