Apple may well give out its “work” software for free, but there are Mac owners out there with a greater affinity for the Microsoft suite of applications. If that’s you, rejoice, for Office 2016 is here.
It’s been quite some time before Microsoft had something new for Mac users reliant on Word, Excel, Powerpoint, and Outlook, with the Office suite sitting a little back there updated way back in 2010 when Office 2011 rolled out.
That was five years ago — five freakin’ years — and much has changed in the Office world.
Sure, the basics are still there — editing documents, making spreadsheets, preparing presentations, writing and reading email — but the apps in Microsoft Office need to do a little more, and need to look a little different, and that’s why Microsoft is this week rolling out Office 2016 for its Mac users.
“Today we are taking a big step forward for Mac users,” said Microsoft’s Kirk Koenigsbauer on the Office Blog. “Based on feedback from the great Mac Office community, we’ve made major updates to each of the apps, and we couldn’t be more pleased to deliver it first to our Office 365 customers.”
First up is the design, which is a little cleaner with a colour heavy ribbon designed to look more like the Windows applications from the same group. It’s blue for Word, green for Excel, orange for Powerpoint, and white for Outlook, with OneNote also making an appearance on Mac with its purple ribbon look.
But design is only one part of the equation, and Mac Office users will also get the full screen way of editing documents, support for Retina screens, as well as support for multi-touch gestures.
Compatibility is also here for other devices, allowing documents and files to be seen and edited on a Mac Office installation and then sent and edited to a phone or tablet for editing there, or even edited and collaborated with in real-time through a link. That means Office for Mac is connected to the cloud, and will remember where you last edited a documents or spreadsheet, which should prove handy for people working across products.
On a product by product basis, some of the neat things we’re seeing include better layout control on a Word document for adding images and design elements, equation support for people adding maths to their Word documents (seen below), finer control for animations in Powerpoint, an updated and improved formula builder in Excel, and a threaded conversation tracker in Outlook to make long message flows easier to manage.
Currently, Office 2016 is available now for Office 365 subscribers on the Mac OS X platform, but will be available in September for a one-time purchase like it used to be.