MICROSOFT HAS ANNOUNCED the expansion of its beta programme for Android tablet versions of its Office productivity suite.
The apps were previously available by invitation only via a closed beta accessed through Microsoft's Google+ page.
From today, however, these restrictions have been removed and anyone can download the preview editions for free from the Google Play store.
There are restrictions, of course. Systems must be running Android 4.x KitKat or Android 5.x Lollipop, have a screen size of between 7in and 10in and, crucially, use an ARM-based processor.
This final point excludes a number of tablets, including Tesco's Hudl and Hudl 2 which run on Intel Atom Bay Trail processors, and the Nvidia Shield, which The INQUIRER branded one of the best Android tablets to date, but which, of course, runs on a native Nvidia system on a chip.
The Microsoft Office blog heralded the success of the closed beta: "The feedback we’ve received through this initial phase of preview has helped us shape and optimise the Office experience for Android tablet users. Your feedback also helps us plan and prioritise future feature updates."
The company also emphasised the need to continue the feedback process as this new phase of the preview begins.
At the moment, the timescale for a full release is not known, nor is the pricing structure for the finished product.
However, last November, the completed iPad editions were made free to use at the same time that the Android preview was launched.
A pared down version of Microsoft Office already exists for Android phones. µ
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