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Microsoft’s bundling apps again: this time on Android

More than 30 Android tablet makers to pre-install Office apps on their devices

Microsoft has landed itself in hot water in the past for bundling apps with its own operating systems. Now it appears the company’s latest strategy is to bundle its apps on rival OSes. 

The software firm has announced that it’s now reached agreements with no fewer than 31 Android tablet makers to pre-install its Office apps on their devices. The latest big names to bundle Microsoft’s apps include Sony and LG. 

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Just a couple of months ago, Microsoft announced deals with Samsung, Dell and a selection of regional manufacturers to have Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, OneDrive and Skype pre-installed on their tablets. Now a further 20 companies have signed up, ensuring that it will be difficult to buy an Android tablet without Microsoft’s productivity apps already pre-loaded.

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“This is a cornerstone of our cross-platform services strategy, to bring an array of Microsoft services to every person on every device,” writes Nick Parker, Microsoft’s corporate vice president on the company’s blog. “By pre-installing Microsoft software and services solutions on Android tablets, our partners are able to increase the value of those devices by delivering the rich productivity experiences customers want.”

Microsoft may regard the bundled apps as “added value”, but tablet buyers may regard them as bloatware. Each of the main Office apps take up several hundred megabytes of storage space, which will swallow a big chunk of the available space on devices with only 16GB of storage. The apps also require an Office 365 subscription to unlock their editing features, which can be bought using in-app purchases. 

Microsoft infamously invoked the wrath of competition authorities in the US and Europe by bundling Internet Explorer with Windows, costing the company many billions in fines and legal fees. Whilst there’s no suggestion the company is doing anything anti-competitive by bundling its apps with Android devices, it’s a reflection of the shifting sands within the tech industry that Microsoft now feels the need to pre-load its apps on rival OSes as well as its own. 

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