Microsoft Office 2016 Arrives on the Mac

The wait's over. Office 365 subscribers can upgrade from the long-in-the-tooth 2011 edition for Apple's desktop OS.


The long wait is over. Yesterday, Microsoft announced the release of Office 2016 for Mac—Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and OneNote—to Office 365 customers, four months after the Redmond, Wash., software giant floated a preview of the software for eager testers who have been toiling away with the 2011 edition. A non-subscription alternative will be available in September.

Office 2016 for Mac bears similarities to the Windows version, but also incorporates some Apple-specific features, wrote Kirk Koenigsbauer, corporate vice president of Office Client Applications and Services at Microsoft, in a July 9 announcement.

"If you already use Office on a PC or iPad, you will find yourself right at home in Office 2016 for Mac. It works the way you expect, with the familiar ribbon interface and powerful task panes," he stated. "Mac users will appreciate the modernized Office experience and the integration of Mac capabilities like Full Screen view and Multi-Touch gestures." The software also features full Retina support for MacBook Pros and desktop systems with the company's pixel-packed, high-resolution display technology.

The updated productivity suite brings some of Microsoft's "cloud-first" ethos to its Mac software slate. "Office for Mac is cloud-connected, so you can quickly get to the documents you've recently used on other devices and pick up where you left off," said Koenigsbauer of the software's cloud-enabled syncing capabilities.

Also available on Office 2016 for Mac are collaborative co-authoring features, allowing users to work on files together. Plus, the software ensures that documents retain their look and feel on devices. "When sharing documents, you won't have to worry about losing content or formatting, as Office for Mac offers unparalleled compatibility with Office on PCs, tablets, phones and online," added Koenigsbauer.

Outlook now has push mail support, keeping users' inboxes current at all times. Those inboxes now organize emails into threaded conversations, reducing the need to search for specific emails in a chain. "And the new message preview shows you the first sentence of an email just below the subject line so you can quickly decide if you want to read it now or come back later," Koenigsbauer said.

New features in Word include a Design tab that applies "designer-quality layouts, colors and fonts" for a professional touch to documents, he said. Users can also "work on the same document simultaneously with your teammates and use threaded comments to have a conversation right next to the corresponding text."

Chart previews in Excel provide users of the software with recommended visualizations based on the data in their spreadsheets. In terms of filling out cells, "an improved formula builder saves you time when creating spreadsheets or entering data," Koenigsbauer said. "For deeper analysis, new PivotTable Slicers help you filter large volumes of data and discover patterns."

PowerPoint gains an upgraded Presenter View that augments the audience view with presenter-only snapshots of the next slide in the sequence, speaker notes and a timer. A new animation pane and toolset help you "design and fine-tune animations, and the latest set of slide transitions add polish to your presentations," said Koenigsbauer.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the network of...