Microsoft does Android again, ships Office apps

Wraps up work on Excel, PowerPoint and Word after month-long preview

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Microsoft today removed the preview label from its Office apps for Android, publishing the final versions of Excel, PowerPoint and Word to Google Play.

Word for Android Microsoft

Word on Android lets consumers view, edit and save documents as long as they sign in using a Microsoft Account.

The three apps are free for consumers, who may use them only for non-commercial purposes; in other words, not for work- or business-related tasks.

Microsoft kicked off previews last month, wrapping up the release of the suite's apps for the OSes maintained by rivals Google (Android) and Apple (iOS). The gradual rollout began in March 2014 with the surprise debut of Office on the iPad less than two months after Satya Nadella replaced Steve Ballmer as CEO.

Previously, Microsoft released betas of Office for Windows 10 Mobile -- the operating system that will launch before the end of this year for smartphones and smaller tablets -- and for Windows 10 on desktops, 2-in-1s and larger tablets. Neither of those collections have been completed.

Microsoft's change in tenor and pivot in strategy have been clearest over the last 17 months as it crafted and then released touch-based Office apps for every major operating system except Windows, turning a decades-long practice of protecting its own OS on its head.

As with the Office apps on other devices, Excel, PowerPoint and Word on Android can be used by consumers free of charge for basic tasks, including viewing, creating and editing documents. A Microsoft Account -- the credentials used to access Microsoft's services, such as Outlook.com and Skype -- is required for all but viewing documents, and on larger Android devices, for everything but viewing and printing.

Business customers and anyone who wants to utilize advanced features, however, require a current Office 365 subscription.

Microsoft has kept Office Mobile, the earlier hub-like app, available for download from Google Play. Its listing, however, now recommends that customers replace it with the new separate apps for Excel, PowerPoint and Word. The listing also cautioned that Office Mobile "is not recommended for Android OS 4.4 and up," another push to abandon the old for the new.

Excel, PowerPoint and Word can be downloaded from Google Play, as well as from the Tencent, Baidu and Xiaomi app stores in China, and from the Samsung Galaxy Store worldwide. The apps require Android 4.4 (KitKat) or later, which collectively account for just over 50% of the active Android devices in use globally, according to Google.

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