One big advantage that Chromebooks have is the ability to tap into the millions of apps on the Google Play Store. That means that Chromebook owners have been able to access Microsoft’s array of Office apps without a native version, but apparently this loophole won’t be open for very much longer.
After various reports of users seeing in-app messaging suggesting support was ending, About Chromebooks has heard directly from Microsoft that support is indeed ending for the Office suite of apps on Chromebook. According to the site, from next month “a transition” will begin, pushing Chromebook users towards web-based experiences.
“In an effort to provide the most optimised 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,” the official statement reads.
“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.”
While Microsoft paints this as a positive with the mention of “additional and premium features”, you would imagine that any Chromebook owners happily plugging away on the Android apps won’t feel the same way.
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For one thing, the About Chromebooks report highlights the difficulty of opening existing Word documents when offline, with the site having to use a Google Docs-based workaround to get it to function. That’s hardly an ideal solution when the Android apps work perfectly well, and indeed were Microsoft’s own recommended solution as recently as July.
Hopefully Microsoft is aware of the teething problems and will be making sure that the web experience works better on Chromebooks before the September 18 deadline. We’ve reached out to the company to ask if the intention is to allow users to work offline with the web-based tools on Chromebook, and will update this piece if and when we get a response.