Microsoft has released a public preview of Office for Android for smartphones which allows Office applications, such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint, to be used on smartphone touch screens.
The move follows the positive reception for the preview of Office for Android tablets in January.
Office for Android shares a lot in common with the touch-enabled Office apps Microsoft provides for Windows phones and iOS devices, which the company recently made available in preview form.
The Office apps tweaked for smartphone use will not have the full functionality of their desktop equivalents, as their design is centred more on reading, tweaking and sharing Office-based content rather than creating it from scratch.
This is reinforced by the apps' functionality with cloud-based storage and collaboration tools such as Box, Dropbox, Google Drive and Microsoft's SharePoint and OneDrive.
Jared Spataro, general manager for the Office 365 marketing team, said on Microsoft's Office blog that the preview of Office for Android phones is a way for Microsoft to gain feedback from a wide user base.
"Bringing these apps to preview first provides you with an early look at the apps, while enabling us to gather critical user feedback helping us shape and improve the app experience on a wide range of Android phones across the world," he said.
"The feedback we received from the Office for Android tablet preview in January was critical to ensuring a high quality and consistent Office experience across Android tablet devices."
People wanting to gain access to Office for Android phones will need to join the Office for Android community and opt to become a tester.
They will then have to wait for Google Play to replicate the permissions, which Microsoft said could take up to four hours, before getting the go-ahead to download and install the Office apps via Google Play.
The Office for Android initiative shows Microsoft pushing ahead with its "mobile first, cloud first" strategy, which it recently described as a way to empower businesses and individuals by giving them more access to data and cloud-based services.
Fabes has held senior IT positions for over 30 years
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