Microsoft kicks off its Office for Android tablets preview

Microsoft is opening up its preview program for Office for Android and plans to deliver the final version of the suite in early 2015.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

Microsoft is accepting applicants for a preview of its Office for Android tablet release as of today, November 6.

Microsoft Excel running on Android

Microsoft is looking for a cross-section of testers running different makes of Android tablets for its preview program. Those interested in applying can do so here. Office for Android tablets test code will go to those accepted within a week or so, officials said.

Office for Android will be generally available in "early 2015", according to company officials.

A basic, consumer-focused version Office for Android tablets will be available for free; a version with more business-focused features will require an Office 365 subscription — just like Office for iPad does. Users will be able to view, create and edit content in the Office for Android tablet apps without a subscription, but not access more advanced editing/creation features or take advantage of unlimited OneDrive storage without one.

The Office for Android tablet suite will include Word, Excel and PowerPoint. OneNote for Android tablets is already available for download for free from the Google Play store. 

Microsoft also is redoing the Office Mobile on Android phones release so that it looks and feels more like the Office on Android tablet one. Specifically, Microsoft will be breaking up the Office Mobile hub into separate Word, Excel and PowerPoint apps, Microsoft officials said, just as they have done on the iPhone as of today, November 6.

Tipsters have said for months that Microsoft's Office on Android tablet release would beat the touch-first Office for Windows release. They were right.

Microsoft officials are now confirming that the touch-first/Metro-Style Office for Windows, which some of us have been calling "Gemini," will be available when Windows 10 is, as my tipsters have said recently. Microsoft officials have said the target release timing for Windows 10 preloaded on new devices is summer 2015.

Touch-first Office on Windows

Update: A demonstration of touch-first Office for Windows is available in this video clip from Microsoft starting at around the 3:41 mark. (Thanks to @h0x0d on Twitter for the link.)

The Office for Android tablets and touch-first Office for Windows releases are built on top of the same common code base, as Microsoft officials have disclosed previously. The coming versions of Word, Excel and PowerPoint for Android phones and Windows Phones are built on that same core, as well. These are "Universal apps," in Microsoft parlance. 

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