Microsoft announced today that major Android device makers such as Samsung, Dell and others will preinstall a wide range of its apps—including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneNote, OneDrive and Skype—on new devices coming to market in the near future. These deals will significantly increase the penetration of the software giant’s mobile apps and, hopefully, increase the usage of the corresponding online services as well.
“Microsoft has new agreements with Samsung, Dell and others to expand the Office experience to both consumer and business customers,” a Microsoft representative told me. “These partners will pre-install Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, OneDrive, and Skype on Android devices coming to market in the near future, helping bring Office to everyone, everywhere – across devices.”
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Microsoft had previously been rumored to have been working on a deal like this with Samsung, following the end of their contract dispute. And there was a lot of speculation ahead of Mobile World Congress that the Galaxy S6 would be the first of what many think of as a “Microsoft Android phone.” However, when the Samsung Galaxy S 6 and S 6 Edge were announced, only a few Microsoft apps were known to be preinstalled, leading to my article Samsung Galaxy S 6 is Not the Microsoft Android Phone We Were Hoping For.
That is still the case. According to a separate announcement, Samsung will only pre-install OneNote, OneDrive and Skype on the new Galaxy S 6 and Galaxy S 6 edge. However, “in the first half of 2015, Samsung is planning to pre-install Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, OneDrive and Skype on select Samsung Android tablets.”
And it’s not just Samsung. Microsoft has also signed similar deals with Dell, and regional hardware makers include “TrekStor of Germany, JP Sa Couto of Portugal, Datamatic of Italy, DEXP of Russia, Hipstreet of Canada, QMobile of Pakistan, Tecno of Africa, and Casper of Turkey, as well as top original device manufacturer Pegatron.” These 11 hardware partners will all pre-install Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, OneDrive and Skype on Android devices coming to market later this year, Microsoft says.
“We’re not afraid to look outside ourselves to reinvent ourselves,” Microsoft executive vice president Peggy Johnson explains. “We’ve received fantastic customer feedback for making Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneNote, OneDrive and Skype available across all platforms. But, we’re far from done. Now we see an opportunity to turn our focus to our device partners — easing mobile access to great apps and services for customers by pre-installing them directly on the device.”
What’s not clear is whether these apps will be the default for anything. For example, will Android devices users be prompted to use OneDrive for photo backup when they use their camera, or will they need to manually run OneDrive for that to happen? Also, it would be ideal if users could be prompted to sign in to a Microsoft account during device setup and auto-sign-up all the Microsoft apps. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. As it stands, this is still a very nice step in the right direction.