Is Google taking a run at Windows 8?

Purchase of Quickoffice adds to Google's mobile arsenal.

What’s it worth to put Microsoft Office on an iPad or Android?

Google won’t say what it paid, but it just bought Quickoffice, which  can do the next-best thing. It makes a Windows Office-compatible platform for Android and iOs operating systems.

It’s not Office and doesn’t have all the editing features that straight-up Microsoft Office offers, but Quickoffice gives users the ability to write and edit documents on tablets and smart phones. It offers word processing, spreadsheets and presentation software, all in Office format.

That means it can be used on devices that don’t support Microsoft Office to edit Office, Powerpoint and Excel. Quickoffice interoperates with online file-sharing services such as Dropbox and integrates with Google Docs.

BACKGROUND: Microsoft's aversion to iOS and Android gives QuickOffice a chance 

QUIZ: Can you navigate Windows 8? 

Google could package Quickoffice with its Chromebooks, which would help the devices compete with Windows 8 tablets and notebooks when they come out later this year. The Windows 8 for ARM processor devices – known as Windows RT – will come with native Office applications (Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote). Full versions of Office will run on Windows 8 x86 laptops, notebooks and tablets.

Google may think that Microsoft won’t support Office on Android devices but recognizes that customers want it. So bundling Quickoffice  with Chromebooks could increase popularity of the devices, and take away one differentiator for Microsoft.

Beyond Microsoft, Quickoffice on Chromebooks could also help them compete with iPads, which Office also doesn’t support. While rumors are rampant that Microsoft will have versions of Office for iPads and Android devices next spring, that’s past the launch date for Windows 8 devices.

It’s also well after the Christmas buying season, a crucial time for sale of mobile devices, so buying Quickoffice could be part of a short-term plan by Google to grab as much of that revenue as it can.

Whatever the motivation, with Chromebooks starting at $299, they could become a more attractive alternative to Windows 8 tablets, iPads and even the little Nook and Kindle tablets from Barnes & Noble and Amazon if they ship with Quickoffice onboard.

\(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.)

More on Microsoft:

This Windows 8 tablet might actually be a PC
Demise of Cius offers lessons for Windows 8

Why aren't Apple and Amazon dumping on Windows RT? 

Is Azure a dirty word because it means cloud?

Remember Windows Live? Forget it. 

Windows 8 is both more and less popular than Windows 7

Windows RT: Commenters hate Microsoft’s name for the Windows 8 tablet package

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