Since 2017, Microsoft has Free its Office suite to Chromebook users through the Google Play Store, but that should end in a few weeks.
As of September 18, Microsoft is discontinuing support for Office, which includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, and Outlook, on Chromebook. Microsoft isn’t completely abandoning the popular mobile device, however. Instead of a downloaded app, Microsoft encourages users to go to the web instead.
“In an effort to provide the most optimized experience for Chromebook customers, Microsoft applications (Office and Outlook) will migrate to web experiences (Office.com and Outlook.com) on September 18, 2021,” Microsoft wrote in a press release sent to TechCrunch.
Microsoft’s statement also noted that “this transition allows Chromebook customers to access additional and premium features.”
Microsoft’s web experience will be used to shift its user base from Chromebook to the Microsoft 365 service, which provides more Office templates and generally more functionality than what the app-based approach provides. The web approach is also more optimized for screens larger than the app.
In terms of how Microsoft wants Chromebook users to have access to Office and Outlook, the plan is for customers to “… sign in with their personal Microsoft account or an account associated with their Microsoft 365 subscription,” according to the statement. Microsoft also provided online documentation to show users how to run Office on a Chromebook.
Chromebooks run on Google’s Chrome OS, which is a Linux-based operating system. Chromebooks also allow Android apps to run, as Android is also Linux-based, with apps downloaded from Google Play. It’s important to note that while support for Chromebooks is waning, Microsoft is not giving up on other Android-based mobile devices, such as tablets and smartphones.
For Chromebook users who have already downloaded Microsoft Office apps, the apps will continue to work after September 18, although they will not receive any future support or updates.