Chrome OS has just become one of the world's fastest-growing operating systems as Chromebooks zoomed past Apple Macs in terms of sales in the United States. This is perhaps the reason Microsoft announced that it is collaborating with Google to bring its Office mobile suite for Android to the Chrome OS.
On Chrome OS Support
The critical variable here is Android compatibility. It could further solidify Chrome OS's position as the second most popular OS in the United States because of the ability to run Android's native apps. The consensus is that Chrome OS now has increased value, along with the expectation of an uptick in Chromebook demand.
The Office productivity apps are available on the Android platform and observers have predicted it is only a matter of time before these also get ported to the Chrome OS.
On one hand, an insurgent Chrome OS should set alarm bells for Microsoft since Chromebooks are now directly competing with entry-level and even mid-range Windows laptops. Keeping the Office suite out of Chrome OS's reach would have been an effective strategy to check its growth.
On the other hand, Microsoft has been pursuing the so-called "cloud-first, mobile-first" policy, which aims to make its productivity apps such as those bundled in the Office suite available across different platforms. This is the reason the Office mobile suite is now available in iOS, Android and Windows Phone platforms. The Chrome OS is, therefore, a logical destination for the Office productivity apps.
Some users will probably notice that, presently, the Office suite for Android does not work on their Chromebooks. The reason for this is simple: Microsoft is currently optimizing Office to provide users with the best possible experience.
"Our strategy has not changed. Office for Android is supported on Chrome OS devices via the Google Play Store," Microsoft said. "While Google Play on Chrome OS is in beta, we are partnering with Google to deliver the best experience for Chromebook users and plan to make the apps available on all compatible devices by general availability."
The purported refinement efforts could also include the development of monetization schemes. The Office suite that has rolled out for some Chromebooks already reflects this. Users who own devices with displays larger than than 10.1 inches will need an Office 365 subscription. Otherwise, they cannot create, edit and print documents. This rule has exempted the Asus Chromebook Flip so its users have free access to the entire range included in the mobile Office suite for Android.