Mossberg’s Mailbox

How to Do Spreadsheets on a Tablet


I have a few questions about Chromebooks. Will they ever be able to run iTunes, Microsoft Office, etc.? Does Google docs have the ability to create documents in Microsoft Office formats? If not, what file formats does Google docs use?


Chromebooks aren’t designed to run traditional computer programs like those you listed. Instead, they use the Chrome Web browser to run websites designed to work like apps. I can’t say whether this will change in the future. But I would note that Microsoft has Web-based, stripped-down versions of the main Office programs at Google docs, now a part of Google Drive, cannot create documents in Microsoft’s formats. Instead, the service uses its own formats. To edit a Microsoft Office document, you have to convert it into a Google format.


Have you tested the Enterprise version of the Surface tablet? I’m hopeful I will be able to work on spreadsheets on a Windows tablet soon.


If you mean the Surface Pro, which is due next year with an Intel processor and a full version of Windows 8 that can run older Windows programs, I haven’t tested it yet. But there are a number of tablets already on the market that run full Windows 8 instead of the more limited Windows RT. More information is at:

However, your question reveals a misunderstanding about the current Surface, called Surface RT. While it can’t run older spreadsheet programs you might wish to install, it comes with the key parts of the forthcoming 2013 version of Microsoft Office built in. That includes Excel. So you can already work on spreadsheets on a Surface.

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