Microsoft Mobile Office Heads To Android OS, But Still Not Tablets

Microsoft, as part of its continuing rollout of Office to mobile devices, announced Wednesday that Office Mobile for Android is now available for download.

The app allows Office 365 subscribers basic editing tools for Word, Excel and PowerPoint files as well as document synchronization.

Office Mobile App for Android smartphones joins identical offering by Microsoft for Apple's iPhone. Microsoft hasn't said when Office Mobile apps would be available on Android or Apple tablets, and recommends users use the Office Web Apps for those devices. Requirements for the Office Mobile for Android app include smartphones running the Android OS 4.0 or higher paired with an Office 365 subscription, priced at $100 per year for Home Premium and $150 for Small Business Premium.

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At least one VAR applauded the move but said Microsoft needs to move faster in serving a growing BYOD demand. "Companies want flexibility," said Allen Falcon, CEO of Cumulus Global, a Westboro, Mass-based Google partner. BYOD makes economic and operational sense for his customers, he said, and Microsoft needs to move faster in offering flexibility and choices for end users.

"Office Mobile has been optimized for the small screen of your phone so you can get things done efficiently," Microsoft said in a blog post. "When reviewing Word documents, the Resume Reading feature takes you to the exact point in the document where you left off on your PC so you don't waste time searching. The new Slide Navigator lets you browse through PowerPoint presentations fast while Speaker Notes help you practice on the run."

Falcon said Office Mobile for Android is a "light-weight" solution that will do little to sway people from turning to rival Android smartphone and tablet apps such as Google's own $15 Quickoffice Pro for document management.

The Office Mobile app comes pre-installed on Windows Phones without an Office 365 subscription.

Right now, Microsoft is still favoring its own Windows mobile OS over others, a move that has VARs like Falcon wondering if the Redmond, Wash.-based company's decision was intentional in order to push customers to its Surface tablet and Windows 8 convertible devices. If Microsoft is perpetuating its closed ecosystem mentality, Falcon said, "it runs the risk of further alienating mobile customers who have already taken a pass Microsoft and are now Google or Apple customers."

The app is available through the Google Play store.