“Unmistakably Office, but thoughtfully designed for the Mac.”
That was the official party line coming out of Redmond towers last week, as Microsoft unveiled a preview version of Office 2016 for Mac to the waiting world.
Historically speaking, Microsoft has released a new version of Office for Mac approximately six to eight months after Office for Windows.
However, following the release of Office 365 the tech giant made the “conscious decision” to prioritise mobile first and cloud first scenarios, in keeping with the company’s well-documented new strategy.
Citing it as a “big day for the Mac community” on the company’s official Office Blog, Kirk Koenigsbauer, corporate VP of Office 365 Client Apps and Services, Microsoft, described Office 2016 for Mac as “an unmistakably Office experience” that is “thoughtfully designed” to take advantage of the unique features of the Mac.
Powered by the cloud, Office 2016 for Mac allows constant access to documents on OneDrive, OneDrive for Business and SharePoint at anytime, alongside updated versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote and Outlook.
Delving deeper, Koenigsbauer billed the new Office 2016 for Mac user interface as “designed from the ground up”, a move which Microsoft hopes will take advantage of the latest Mac features, including retina display and full-screen view support.
The new Word for Mac possesses “state of the art” editing, reviewing, and sharing tools with the Design tab providing quicker access to features.
Also, the new Format Object task pane is designed to provide “complete control” over pictures, shapes, and effects.
The new Excel for Mac brings a fresh user interface as well as many functions from Excel 2013 for Windows, including familiar keyboard shortcuts in a bid to provide users with a consistent cross-platform experience.
The new PowerPoint for Mac brings new slide transitions, an improved Animations task pane, and an improved coauthoring experience, including threaded comments alongside slides and the ability to visually compare version conflicts and confidently choose the right one to keep.
New features in Outlook include Online Archive support, category list sync, weather in calendar, apps for Office, and side-by-side calendar.
Officially supported on machines running Yosemite (10.10), Microsoft says the preview for Office 2016 for Mac will also be regularly updated, with users receiving the update via a notification from the auto-update tool.
While it’s fair to say that Office for Mac hasn’t been the greatest priority for Microsoft, which has instead focued on Windows, iOS and Android versions, with an official release date expected for the second half of 2015, it still shouldn’t find it too difficult to persuade users to upgrade from Office 2011 for Mac.