Google’s Chrome OS-based computers debuted in 2011 with a very limited feature set, but they’ve exploded in popularity as functionality improved. There are still a few pain points for those who want to move over to Chromebooks (See on Amazon). For example, a lack of Microsoft Office apps on many devices. That’s not a problem anymore, though. As of now, Microsoft Word, Powerpoint, and Excel are available on all Chromebooks.
Of course, Chromebooks don’t run desktop Windows software. We’re talking about the Android versions of these apps. You can download those apps on your Android-based phone or tablet right now, but Chromebooks run Android apps as well. Until recently, Microsoft’s Office apps only showed up in the Play Store for certain Chromebooks, but now they are live for all Chromebooks with the Play Store.
Office apps on Android/Chrome are not as capable as the desktop Windows apps, but they include all the basics plus a good selection of advanced features most people will never touch. You can view, edit, and even track changes in documents using the Android version of Office. The apps even have interfaces designed for large-screen devices like Chromebooks, so you’re not just limping along with an oversized UI intended for phones. You might not even realize at first these are not the standard desktop versions of the apps.
There have a few caveats here. Microsoft isn’t just giving all the features away for free. If your Chromebook has a screen larger than 10.1-inches (most of them do), you need to have an Office 365 subscription to edit documents. Without a subscription, you can only open and view documents in read-only mode. Office 365 runs $ 10 per month, but it includes a few extras like 1TB of OneDrive storage.
To get the Office apps on Chromebooks, just open the Play Store client on the device and search for Word, Powerpoint, or Excel. You can also visit the web Play Store from another device and remotely install the Office apps on your Chromebook.
Chromebooks have become incredibly popular computers even without Microsoft Office. Google-powered computers outsold Macs for the first time last year. Sales of Chromebooks even pushed the PC market to grow for the first time in years. Clearly, Microsoft’s hesitance to allow its popular productivity apps to run on Chrome OS devices wasn’t stopping people from buying them. Microsoft would probably prefer to see people using Office on Chromebooks rather than G Suite.