Q. Can I use Microsoft Office on a Chromebook?
A. Chromebooks run Google’s Chrome OS, which was introduced in 2009 as a streamlined operating system for netbooks and other lightweight laptops. While you cannot install the traditional Windows or Mac versions of Microsoft Office on a Chromebook and have the software actually work, Microsoft’s Office apps for Android devices can now run on the newer Chromebook models that have the ability to download, install and run apps from the Google Play store.
The Office apps are free for devices with screens smaller than 10.1 inches, though a free Microsoft account is required to create and edit files. For Chromebooks and tablets with larger screens, a paid subscription to Microsoft’s Office 365 service is required; the least expensive plan is about $ 7 a month.
The Office apps for Android are not the only way to open and edit Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint files on a Chromebook. If you have a free Microsoft account, you can log in and edit files in Office Online, a browser-based version of the suite.
Office-related Chrome browser extensions are available in the Chrome web store, including the Office Editing for Docs, Sheets and Slides add-on, which automatically opens Office files in Google’s own word-processing, spreadsheet and presentation apps. You can also open Office files with Google Docs right in the browser and convert files to either format. Last week, Google announced that Google Drive users could add comments directly to Office files, without having to convert the documents first.