Office Apps for Android Tablets Released to Preview

Touch-based Microsoft Office apps, already available for the Apple iOS platform, are now also enabled for all Google Android-based devices.

Microsoft on Thursday released preview versions of Office apps -- including Word, Excel and PowerPoint -- for Android tablets, with final release expected in early 2015.

Users of Android tablets can sign up to try the new Office apps preview at this page. The preview works only 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 must 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.

Word for Android tablet preview. (Source: Microsoft)

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 is also extending those same free creation and edit capabilities to Office apps users on the Apple iOS platform, although certain "premium features" require 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 its use is limited to viewing and editing documents, not creating them, according to Microsoft's Office on devices product description. Mobile Office document creation is also not available for Windows Phone devices, although document editing is. The use of Mobile Office for iPhones allows both document creation and editing.

Touch-based Office apps for Windows 10 are also in development, Microsoft said on Thursday. The company didn't provide any more details, although it released this video that briefly shows 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 1105 Media's Converge360 group.