Android is not exactly hurting for good productivity software, but Microsoft Office has been conspicuously absent until recently. Today, Microsoft shared some good news for those who use their tablets for more than just playing games and watching downloaded TV shows on airplanes. Not only are Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint out of previews and into full availability, but Outlook now has a free preview edition as well.
Microsoft shared information about its new programs on its Office Blog, where it highlighted how it has optimized the programs to run on 7-inch tablets or larger. (The programs are not currently available for anything that has a smaller screen.) Word, Excel and PowerPoint are, in theory, as robust as their computer counterparts, but the newer Outlook still has some catching up to do.
As Word, Excel and PowerPoint have already been out in preview format for a few months, there's not too much new. They have larger command buttons, which Microsoft promises will work "for even the fattest of fingers." While users are welcome to attach Bluetooth keyboards, Microsoft assures users that such a measure is not necessary, regardless of whether they want to type, create charts or animate presentations.
The Android Outlook preview comes alongside the release of Outlook's full version on iOS and Android. Based on code from Microsoft's Acompli acquisition, the program already has most of Outlook's most salient features: sending and receiving e-mail, of course, but also scheduling meetings, tracking down old messages with predictive searching and attaching files from the cloud (including Dropbox). Microsoft also highlighted Outlook's ability to sort high priority e-mails from run-of-the-mill messages.
While each one of the programs is free to install, getting the most out of them costs a little bit of money. Unlocking the full features in Word, Excel and PowerPoint requires an Office 365 subscription, which can cost between $7 and $13 per month. There is no way to buy the programs permanently. On the bright side, Outlook will be completely free until it leaves the preview stage.