Microsoft Office Doesn’t Work on Chromebooks – Guess Why?

Microsoft is bringing its suite of productivity apps over to Chromebooks. This includes Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint- basically Microsoft Office.

In fact, they’re already available for download if you have an Asus Chromebook Flip with access to the Google Play Store. Oh yes.

But, there’s a single problem. Or maybe a few problems with it.

They don’t work. Well, they don’t work that well. Unless you meet a specific requirement.

Last updated: 5/31/17.

It’s “unsupported” on the Asus Chromebook Flip

Users with Asus Chromebook Flip reported that they faced problems when trying to use Microsoft’s apps. An error spawned that stated the app was seemingly “unsupported on this device.”

Why is this the case? Is it because Microsoft has blocked access for some devices and not others? Or is it a glitch? What’s going on?

They soon replied that the issue is indeed a glitch, and it’s because the Play Store for Microsoft Office apps for Android is still in a beta testing phase. As you may know, they can now support Android apps- well, only select ones. The Play Store update for Chromebooks is still rolling out to more and more models as it gets updated and released.

For now, only a few specific models can actually download Android apps. Microsoft stated that it’s working to improve the experience across Android devices and other models for integration so that more users have access to it.

They’re working on making Word, Excel, and PowerPoint available for all models

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Microsoft said that it’s going to make it available for every Chromebook with access to Android apps. The problem is that not every laptop will receive the update to run Android apps. And that for the Chromebooks that can, it’s  buggy. The bugs can be fixed. But, to run Office on Chromebooks requires that you have a model that can actually download Android apps. See the list of eligible Chromebooks.

Microsoft stated in response:

“Our strategy has not changed. Office for Android is supported on Chrome OS devices via the Google Play Store. 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…”

This is basically a blanket statement for “Hold on. We’re working on it. But we don’t know when it’ll ever be available to all models.”

If you’re waiting to get Office, I suggest just using the web version or the app. The app is basically a link to the online version and allows you to use their tools without needing Windows.

(Want an alternative to Microsoft Office for Chrome? Check out these similar apps that get the job done.)

(Are you a writer or student in need of a word processor? See this list of the best.)

The caveat? You need to have a 10.1” screen if you want Microsoft Office for free

It was also deduced that Microsoft will only allow a full version of its Office Suite for select Chromebooks. Models with a screen size larger than 10.1 inches (diagonally) will be using a limited version of the program. These users can’t print, edit, or create any documents, spreadsheets, or slides. Users of the Asus Flip will be able to access the Office Suite for free, however. If they decide to use any of the apps on another drive, they’ll have to pay a subscription fee.

Microsoft replied to 9to5Google:

“On devices larger than 10.1 inches, an Office 365 subscription is required to unlock the ability to create, edit, or print documents.”

This isn’t a way for Microsoft to squeeze more money or anything. It’s due to their own policy of classifying any device lesser than 10.1 inches a “true mobile device.” Anything larger isn’t. Chromebooks aren’t being singled out or unfairly targeted. It just so happens to fit Microsoft’s definition of what’s mobile and what’s not. The same rule applies to the 12.9 inch iPad Pro. Any device larger than the 10.1-inch rule will be required to pay for a monthly subscription of $6.99 or an annual subscription of $69.99.

If you’re a student, professional, or otherwise need access to the Microsoft Suite, just remember that it’s free for devices that are considered mobile- less than 10.1 inches. Anything more will require a payment. Then again, it’s hard to do much without a full keyboard, mouse, and large screen. So there’s definitely a tradeoff depending on what you’re using the Suite for and what device you’re using.

This is pretty lame. If you’re in the 11.6” range like most users are, you’ll have to buy a license for it.

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About Andy Z.

Andy is a casual-hardcore Chrome OS fan and contributes to the site regularly. He likes computers, tech, sports cars, videogames, and of course, Chromebooks. Thinker. Introvert. Geek. You can find him on Twitter (@platytech), or send him an email (check the "Contact Us" page).

2 thoughts on “Microsoft Office Doesn’t Work on Chromebooks – Guess Why?”

  1. Hi Andy Z, thanks for the article. It gives useful information that isn’t available elsewhere on the web about the ASUS Chromebook flip and Office for mobile, android. I’ve tried installing this on the flip, but have been thwarted by the “incompatible with your device” message. Sideloading in dev channel also failed with the same block. (I can download office apps using “microsoft apps” android app to locate the apps from Microsoft, but none of the office apps will actually install once downloaded). I haven’t been game to do a complete reset and install Chromium developer mode as I want to retain the supported ChromeOS. Would you be able to let us know with an update once this glitch is corrected? It will be awesome to have access to Mobile Office without subscription fees.

    • Hi,

      You’re very much welcome! I’m super stoked that you like the article =].

      As for your inquiry, I’ll look into the issue and let you know if I find a solution. Getting Office on mobile for free, but then having to pay for it on the Flip is kind of a downer. If I find a way to access the mobile version of Office on the ASUS Flip, or if it gets patched, I’ll let you know. Stay tuned!



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