Microsoft Outlook.com doesn’t play well with Android mobile

It should open Office attachments in the Cloud via a browser - but it doesn't

One of the hot new features of Microsoft's upgraded and renamed email service Outlook.com - that devices without Office loaded on to them can open Office attachments in the Cloud via a browser - won't work with Android mobile devices.

Clicking on the attachments is supposed to enable viewing and editing them from a Microsoft cloud-based SkyDrive account, but that doesn't happen. Instead the device downloads the document and attempts to open it with an Office reader.

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That's the experience from the Outlook.com mobile Web site. Clicking on the PC site option brings up a new page that has an option button for editing the document in the browser, and choosing it does bring up the document in read-only mode. There's no way to activate the touchscreen keyboard to edit.

This was all done on a Verizon Samsung Android Charge phone using the standard software load and connecting to Outlook.com Preview.

Microsoft engineers checked out this issue and a spokesperson came back with this response: The issues you are running into are limitations that are specific to the Android mobile browsing experience and the Office Web Applications. Microsoft is aware of them and the team continues to use this feedback to improve the Outlook.com Preview on all modern devices.

The online editing of Office documents via browser is a handy feature for those who might access Outlook.com via devices that dont have Office loaded on them. And it worked well on devices running Windows 8, Windows 7 and iOS that were tested.

One tip: In Windows 8 the tile for Office attachments has a narrow band across the bottom to click or tap in order to edit the document in the browser. Touching any other part of the tile downloads the document, which triggers alerts if the device has no Office on it.

For example, after tapping the tile on a Windows 8 tablet, it downloaded an Excel document. Since the machine had no Office on it, a window popped up saying, Microsoft Office Professional Plus 2010. Enter Your Product Key.

Tapping the ribbon across the bottom of the tile, however, brought up the spreadsheet in the browser where it could be edited. Outlook.com Preview is the public trial of the email platform that will eventually replace Hotmail and customers can sign up for it now.

(Tim Greene covers Microsoft for Network World and writes the Mostly Microsoft blog. Reach him at tgreene@nww.com and follow him on Twitter https://twitter.com/#!/Tim_Greene.)

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