Microsoft has nixed the registration requirement for the Office for Android Tablet preview, the company announced in a Jan. 6 blog post.
"Starting today, anyone can go to Google Play and download the Word, Excel and PowerPoint preview apps," stated Microsoft. "No waitlist. No requesting access. Just go and download the apps!"
Launched two months ago, the program was designed to gather feedback for Office's (Word, Excel and PowerPoint) leap to tablets powered by Google's popular Android mobile operating system (OS). The move follows last year's launch of the long-awaited Office for iPad apps.
As part of the Redmond, Wash.-based company's "mobile-first, cloud-first" product strategy, Microsoft has been on a mission to expand the reach of Office productivity software ecosystem by supporting rival OS platforms and providing more functionality at no cost.
"With Office on nearly every device, it's incredibly important to us that customers have a consistent experience and the ability to do more—anywhere and everywhere," Microsoft Office Corporate Vice President John Case said in a Nov. 6 statement. "So, starting today, people can create and edit Office content on iPhones, iPads, and soon, Android tablets using Office apps without an Office 365 subscription."
The approach seems to be paying off. Office for iPad has racked up more than 40 million downloads as of November, according to Case.
The first round of the Office for Android Tablet required users to own a tablet powered by Android 4.4, "KitKat". Now, Microsoft is widening the net.
"We want more feedback from more users to ensure that Office apps work well on a range of different Android tablets before launching the official apps," stated Microsoft. "To participate in the preview, you can use an ARM-based Android tablet running KitKat or Lollipop, with a screen size between 7 and 10.1 inches." Owners of tablets that run Android 4.3, "Jelly Bean", or below are out of luck.
Android "Lollipop," or version 5.0 of the OS, ushers in a wide range new features and enhancements, including support for wearables, improved touch responsiveness and tweaks that leverage the extra screen real estate provided by tablets. Google's well-regarded Nexus 9 tablet, built in partnership with HTC, and Nokia's first Android tablet, the N1 (pictured), both run Lollipop.
Specifying the ARM processor requirement may seem odd at first, given that the chip designer's technology dominates the market for both smartphones and tablets. However, Microsoft's blog post suggests that its Office apps don't yet work well, if at all, on the latest crop of Intel-based Android tablets.
During the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week, Dell officially released the Venue 8 7000, a slim slate that the company is billing as the "world thinnest tablet." The 8.4-inch, Android 4.4 ("KitKat") computing slate, which is a scant 0.24 inches thick, packs a quad-core Intel Atom processor, up to 2.3GHz, and a 2,560-pixel by 1,600-pixel organic light-emitting diode (OLED) touch-screen.