By Mark Hawver, Tech Times | July 2, 6:45 PM
Geeks and Android aficionados of the world, unite. Microsoft is inviting you to become an official beta tester for its upcoming Office productivity suite of apps for Android tablets.
This comes on the heels of the recent announcement Microsoft is developing a version of Office for Android specifically for tablets, a development that was not unexpected. About a year ago, the company released a smartphone-compatible version, which is available on Google Play under the moniker Microsoft Office Mobile.
This app was initially operable only by full-fledged Office 365 subscribers, but in March of this year, Microsoft relented and offered the full version for download at no charge. When Microsoft Office Mobile was first released, the company seemed to infer that there were no plans for a tablet version. Change happens.
Microsoft may have been spurred on to develop the Android tablet version of Office by the notable success of its Office for iPad launch, which has generated over 27 million downloads to date.
Anyone interested in joining the beta-testing fraternity for Android Office on their tablet ought to visit this Microsoft page to formally submit an application, although at present the website may be in need of beta-testing itself since it sports an "out of order" sign. It is not clear when the beta testing will begin and throwing your hat in the ring is no guarantee of acceptance into the pre-release testing program. Ownership of an Android tablet and vast experience with other Microsoft products would seem be a minimum requirement.
The beta-testing program currently offered by Microsoft may include other components of Microsoft Office, and not necessarily be confined to the Android platform. The company is also planning to release a tabletized version of Office for Windows and that will likely be included in the program, although the Android version is expected to take precedence.
Other programs or applications that may also be part of Microsoft's pre-release testing phase include OneNote, Access, Outlook, Visio and Publisher. That's in addition to the cornerstone Word, Excel and PowerPoint applications.
Microsoft has turned to crowd-sourced beta testing in the past. The company beta-tested Office 2013 in 2012.
Office for Android tablets will be optimized for enhanced touch-screen functionality, and look for a strong cooperative relationship with Microsoft's OneDrive cloud service. It should also feature most of the goodies offered in Microsoft Office Mobile.