With Microsoft's push to prioritize cross-platform services as well as be a mobile-first company, it's become very important to provide programs on iOS and Android, instead of trying to convince users to adopt software on Windows and Windows Phone.As part of this strategy the company has delivered Office apps (Excel and Office Mobile suite for Android phones. Now the company has released a touch-optimized preview of Word, Excel and PowerPoint for Android tablets.
Late to the party
Given that Google's office suite has been out for some time, Microsoft is lagging behind in the touch-optimized productivity suite market, but it the company is hoping to find success from the many people who have already bought into its ecosystem.Currently Excel for Android tablets (along with PowerPoint) is only available for ARM-based Android tablets with a 7' to 10.1' screen, 1GB RAM and running KitKat (4.4.x) or Lollipop (5.0). But Microsoft is working on expanding it further, specifically to Intel-powered tablets.In the preview version, there is no need to have an Office 365 account to download these apps,a Microsoft email address is enough to sign up to this 'Freemium' version. Unsurprisingly, Excel for Android tablets is not as fully featured as its
Familiar ribbon interface
If you're already familiar with Excel (Office 2007 and onwards) then the ribbon interface will be very recognizable and you'll be able to easily flick between menus in the slick interface without problems. The sometimes overwhelming features and menus have been condensed with only the most important ones included, which makes it a lot more simple and straightforward to use. And also a lot quicker to find what you want. For example, I often struggle to remember where freeze panes is in the desktop version but it's very obvious in the Android tablet version.If you're a power user and you want to create complex formulas quickly then Excel for Android tablets is not the ideal way to do it,desktop is still king in that respect.Navigation horizontally and vertically is very smooth. But one major problem is that the keyboard takes up most of the screen when entering data, making it very difficult to see all the information in the spreadsheet. That makes Excel for Android tablets much better suited to bigger screens, or portrait view if entering data. The touch control isn't precise, which makes adding and editing formulas tricky.