Linus Torvalds once said that if Microsoft ever made applications for Linux “it means I’ve won”. Now that Microsoft has released a version of Office for Android, Torvalds' dream has come true. Sort of.
It’s likely that Torvalds envisioned Microsoft Office on a desktop build of Linux, but that’s not exactly what has transpired. First, “Linux” in this case is Android, which is of course built on Linux but has been heavily Google-ized. Second, this isn’t a full version of Office by any means; instead, it’s more of a front end for users with an Office 365 subscription—a companion app.
Here it is in a nutshell:
You can access, view and edit your Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel and Microsoft PowerPoint documents from virtually anywhere. Documents look like the originals, thanks to support for charts, animations, SmartArt graphics and shapes. When you make quick edits or add comments to a document, the formatting and content remain intact.
Still, many users will be happy to have that capability on their Android phones, especially with the addition of a standalone OneNote app to accompany Outlook and SkyDrive apps.
It’s true that seeing Microsoft Office on Android phones must give Torvalds some measure of satisfaction, but the story here isn’t so much about Linux as it is about Microsoft and Google. Although Microsoft is still one of the juggernauts of the tech industry, it has lost its footing if not its way entirely. The company seems baffled by mobile (Windows Phone 8 notwithstanding), as evidenced by its clumsy attempt at a mobile/touch optimization with Windows 8 and the sad sack mobile version, Windows RT.
Google, on the other hand, is thriving. In addition to its many services such as search, Gmail, YouTube, and on and on, Android is taking over the world. Thus, although Android would never have been possible without Linux and its widespread community, the victory here belongs to Google more than Torvalds.