Microsoft announced that Office for Mac 2011, its productivity software for Macs, will be available only in a 32-bit version upon its release later this year. In a blog posting, a Microsoft executive suggested the lack of a 64-bit version was due primarily to a timing issue, but that most users would hardly notice a difference in performance. Office for Mac 2011 will include many of the features already present in Office 2010, which Microsoft will offer to consumers starting this month.
Microsoft is announcing that Office for Mac 2011 will be available only in a
32-bit version upon its release later this year. That contrasts with Office
2010, Microsoft's latest productivity software for PCs, which features both
32-bit and 64-bit support. According to Microsoft, that sole 32-bit version for
Macs is primarily the result of a timing issue.
"In Office 2011, we've made investments in better compatibility between
Office for Mac and Windows Office, which is the largest request we receive from
customers," Jake Hoelter, product unit manager for the Microsoft Macintosh
Business Unit, wrote
in a June 8 posting on Mac Mojo: The Office for Mac Team Blog
. "Our work to
increase compatibility means we haven't completed the transition of moving the
entire user interface to Cocoa
Because of that, Hoelter added, "and because Apple's frameworks require us
to complete the move to Cocoa
before we can build a 64-bit version, Office 2011 will be 32-bit only."
Hoelter suggested most users will hardly notice. "The largest difference
between using a 32-bit and 64-bit version is the memory capacity available for
your content," he wrote. "Most users with typical or even larger-than-average
document content will not notice a difference in performance."
However, "where 64-bit can make a difference is for people working with huge
amounts of data, such as those creating very large Excel files with data in
millions of cells, or PowerPoint presentations with thousands of high-resolution
Despite the tech industry's gradual migration to 64-bit architecture, 32-bit
continues to reign supreme in many contexts. A February posting on the Microsoft
Office 2010 Engineering blog
recommended that users of both 32-bit and
64-bit Windows PCs install the 32-bit version of Office 2010, "mainly due to
compatibility with existing 32-bit controls, add-ins and VBA," unless they had
the sort of intensive data needs that demanded 64-bit.
Office for Mac 2011 will include many of the features already present in
Office 2010, according to earlier statements from Microsoft. Specifically,
Office 2011 will allow Mac users to access their documents online through
Office Web Apps, co-author documents with colleagues from different locations,
and feature the ribbon, Microsoft's interface tool for the most recent versions
of Office for PCs.
As part of the Office 2011 rollout, Microsoft
also plans on replacing Entourage for Mac with a new version of Outlook for Mac
Eric Wilfrid, general manager for the Microsoft Macintosh Business Unit, wrote
in an August 2009 statement that Outlook for Mac will include features such as
"high-speed file-based database with support for backing up files with Time
Machine and Spotlight searching" as well as information rights management.