Microsoft is making plans to end support for the Office app for the Chrome OS machines. This move was reached in a bid to get users to try the web versions. Starting on the 18th of September 2021, the Redmond-based tech giant – Microsoft in a statement confirmed the app will leaving Chrome OS and will start pushing Chromebook users to its web version. You can find more details here. The statement also reported that only certain Office web apps, like Outlook, have an offline mode, and opening existing documents using Microsoft’s progressive web apps for Chrome OS while offline doesn’t work. So, it sounds like this transition could be messy and not as fully featured.
It’s unclear why Microsoft is making this change, except that the company described the move in a statement as an “effort to provide the most optimized experience for Chrome OS/Chromebook customers.” Whatever the intention, this is likely to give Chromebook users another reason to give the G Suite a try, if they haven’t already. Or hey, perhaps they’ll ditch their Chromebooks and download the Android app on Windows 11.
It’s worth noting that, in July 2021, Microsoft’s support documents recommended Chromebook owners install the Android versions of Office, Outlook, OneNote, and OneDrive to their laptops. Those support documents now state that those native Android apps are unsupported for Chrome OS users. Although Microsoft didn’t explain why the change, but it’s a little ironic given Windows 11 now supports running Android apps. Honestly, it’s probably just Redmond’s way of competing with Google and Chrome OS yet again. Pocket-lint contacted Microsoft for a comment and will share more when we learn it.
Asides from the obvious offline issue that is looming, the web version of Office includes all the features you’d normally use, from word processing to checking email. To use the web apps, Chromebook users will either need to sign in with their personal Microsoft Account or an account associated with a Microsoft 365/Office 365 subscription. Though signing in via the web app should work in a pinch, it’s clearly an inferior experience to what the Android app has offered until now, not to mention what Google’s G Suite can do on its native Google-controlled platform. In particular, be warned that the web app offers almost no offline access, something users have enjoyed on the Google Play Store version.