Chrome OS has become a sort of “one OS to rule them all” in the past years. In addition to the usual native Chrome OS apps and web apps, it has also gained support for Linux and Android apps. With no small amount of work, it can even run Windows software to some extent. That, however, doesn’t mean that the experience of apps from those other platforms is on par with full-blooded Chrome OS apps, and Microsoft seems to be using that to justify ending official support for the Android versions of its Microsoft Office and Outlook apps on Chrome OS starting September.
The situation with Microsoft’s first-party apps is a bit of a mess, whatever the platform. Office alone has multiple incarnations, and some like Outlook and OneNote even have conflicting or incompatible variants on the same Windows OS. It is, however, simplifying its message on Chrome OS by offering one and only one way to use Microsoft Office on Chromebooks.
In a statement sent to About Chromebooks, Microsoft confirms that its Office and Outlook apps on Chrome OS will be “transitioned” to their web counterparts on Office.com and Outlook.com. This will start on September 18, 2021, and will require users to sign in to their Microsoft accounts to access those web apps. The company says that it is doing so to provide the most optimized experience on Chromebooks.
Some users, however, might disagree with that premise. The web versions of Microsoft’s Office and Outlook apps are not always consistent with the features available on native apps for Android, iOS, and Windows. There is also the question of whether these web apps, whether in-browser or PWA, will be able to function offline like their Android counterparts.
At the moment, it’s unclear what this transition will mean for those using Office Android apps on Chromebooks, whether the apps will completely stop working or whether they will just be unavailable for download. Of course, the Android apps will still remain on Google Play Store, and APKs will most likely be still available for users to install unofficially.