Microsoft opens Office for Android tablet preview to all comers

Redmond expands its earlier invite-only sneak peek: Lollipop users are now eligible

PowerPoint for Android

PowerPoint for Android

Credit: Microsoft

Microsoft today opened its preview of Office for Android tablets to all eligible comers, expanding the sneak peek from the invite-only beta it first offered in November.

The requirements for using the preview were also slightly changed. Microsoft added the recently released Android 5.0 Lollipop to the requirements list, which earlier had included only Android 4.4 KitKat. Tablets must sport a screen between 7 inches and 10.1 inches to run the unfinished apps.

According to Google, 34 percent of all Android devices ran KitKat as of Dec. 1; Lollipop's share was less than 0.1 percent. Some tablets, however, do run Lollipop, including Google's own Nexus 7 and Nexus 10.

Office for Android is composed of the same three core apps seen in Office for iPad: Excel, PowerPoint, and Word. Office for iPad debuted in March 2014, and the Android apps boast similar if not identical functionality to those that run on Apple's tablet.

As with Office for iPad, when Office for Android launches, users will be able to view, create, and edit documents free of charge in noncommercial settings, but business customers and anyone who wants to use the advanced features will need a current Office 365 subscription.

Office for Android smartphones, called Office Mobile, remains available and free to download. Microsoft has said that it will unbundle that integrated app into three standalone apps of Excel, PowerPoint, and Word, as it did for Office on Apple's iPhone in November.

Although Microsoft has not yet set a launch date for Office for Android tablets, last year it said it would release the apps in early 2015.

The three Office apps -- Excel, PowerPoint, and Word -- can be downloaded from Google Play, the official Android app store.

This story, "Microsoft opens Office for Android tablet preview to all comers" was originally published by Computerworld.

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