Microsoft has been attempting to broaden its mobile appeal by improving its range of software. Today Microsoft has announced a slew of changes to its mobile Office applications and is accepting signs for a preview build designed for Android tablets.
The new Office build for mobile unifies the software across Android, iOS, and Windows platforms. Previously each ecosystem had different apps designed specifically for each platform. This unified approach has the added benefit of allowing Microsoft to quickly patch up and improve features across the entire software suite more easily. There are plenty of changes in store compared with the old build, but we’ll wait to try it out for ourselves before judging how much of an improvement has been made over the old suite.
“It has required us to be great at writing platform code for Android, code for iOS, and code for Windows,”
Microsoft has also recently made a few changes to its Office usage policy. Previously the company has strict rules on who could edit files, but has now opened up the platform so that basic authoring and editing can used regardless of whether the user pays for Office 365. This free approach to its basic toolset should help boost popularity amongst Android customers, with additional paid for options reserved for more demanding Office users.
Microsoft intends to allow tens of thousands of users to test its preview build on Android tablets. Sign-ups have commenced today, although only those willing to remain on KitKat during the test should apply. The idea behind a limited preview is to gauge and test the software on a range of Android hardware configurations before releasing the final product to the general public. The Office preview app should roll out to participants come December.
“Our goal with this preview is to ensure that we get a broad representation of the vast array of form factors, device types, and operating system versions that the Android tablet install base represents, and make sure we can polish these apps,”
General availability of the new Office for Android tablets is expected sometime in early 2015.