Much has been said and written about Microsoft’s® post-Ballmer strategy of offering Microsoft products on devices and platforms which compete with Windows™. There were many years during which it made sense to leverage the market dominance of Windows, particularly with Office, as both the popular OS and productivity suite were global standards which combined to minimize competition in their respective space. That reality changed, however, with the popularity of smartphones and other mobile computing devices. Windows no longer dominates the OS market, but Office remains the standard by which other productivity suites such as Apple’s iWork® or Google’s G Suite™ are measured.
Under CEO Satya Nadella, Microsoft vowed to offer Office and other products on multiple platforms. This could be perceived as an admission that Windows has lost the OS war, but regardless of reasons, Microsoft now offers Office for Windows, macOS®, Android™, and iOS™. These often include limited functionality editions which are offered free of charge, and full functionality versions which require a paid perpetual license or subscription fee.
Google’s Linux®-based Chrome™ operating system has been notably absent from the list of supported platforms, but Microsoft has now quietly added Office for Chrome to list.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise, although I’m somewhat surprised that Microsoft didn’t really announce it. The Chrome OS™ is only available on Chromebooks™, which are relatively low-end laptops. Chromebooks are most popular in the education market, which would seem like a logical market for Microsoft to pursue with Office. Perhaps a better reason for Microsoft to tout the announcement is that it is yet another step in fulfilling their promise to make Microsoft applications available on competing platforms. The delayed availability for Chrome may be partially due to Google’s announcement in 2015 that they would merge the Android and Chrome into a single OS, but that hasn’t happened and Google backed off that promise a year ago.