Like many Chromebook educators, I often find myself interacting with Microsoft Office documents in a less than satisfactory way. Fortunately, that experience is about to undergo an upgrade.
Mission Possible: Android Apps on Chromebooks
As Dr. Bruce Ellis reported in his March 2017 blog entry, Running Android Apps on Chromebook, future Chromebooks will run Android apps.
According to the Chromium Projects, starting this year, all Chromebooks that become available are supposed to work with Android. Even if you don’t see your Chromebook on the list, it will still receive updates until its Google-determined end-of-life, which should be about five years after it debuted.
The ability to load Android apps on your Chromebook enables access to a host of Android apps for education. These apps expand the Chromebook’s viability for younger grades and students (source). Teachers will also have access to many Android apps, as well as specially-designed cloud apps. These include Adobe Creative Cloud apps (such as Photoshop Mix, Lightroom Mobile, Illustrator Draw, Photoshop Sketch, Adobe Comp CC, and Creative Cloud Mobile).
Furthermore, one more inducement for some educators and students exists. That is the ability of Chromebooks to run the MS Office Android apps.
MS Office Goes Chrome via Android
Research (via Chrome Unboxed) revealed in November 2017 that MS Office Android apps are working on the following Chromebooks:
Microsoft reports that they “…are partnering with Google to deliver the best experience for Chromebook users and plan to make the apps available on all compatible devices by general availability” (source).
Windows Programs on Chromebooks
If Android isn’t enough for you on your Chromebook, you may want to give another product a try. In my early days as a veteran GNU/Linux and Macintosh user, I often found myself trying to run Windows programs. Those experiments involved WINE (Wine is NOT an Emulator), as well as tools like Codeweavers’ Crossover product. Not familiar with Crossover? Here is a quick overview from their website:
Don’t let dual-booting or a virtual machine slow you down. CrossOver will open your Windows software. Launch Windows productivity software, utility programs and games natively. CrossOver doesn’t have the overhead of the Windows operating system like a virtual machine, which means that Windows programs run at native speed, games play at full fps and you don’t need to purchase a Windows license.
After trying Crossover in various situations, I can say it worked…barely. Now, Crossover is available for Chrome OS:
The CrossOver Chrome OS beta will let you run Windows software on Intel-based Chromebooks and Android tablets. Seamlessly run full-featured Windows software that is not available in the Google Play store alongside mobile apps. Run Windows utility software like Quicken and Microsoft Office, or DirectX games, like Wizard101. Games from your steam library will run with CrossOver Android at native speeds. Get rid of remote sessions and multiple devices! With CrossOver Android you’ll only need one device to run your Windows programs and mobile apps. Watch the video.
In most situations, running Crossover for the lone district administrator or campus staff member was not worth the trouble. You just have to spend the money on a computer that is not under-powered.
Ready to Try?
If you’re ready to give it a try, you have two options for exploring Microsoft Office 365 on your compatible Chromebook. For the occasional user, a Chromebook running Android versions of MS Office may be the solution.