Office 2016 updates hit Mac Office 365 users, Universal Office Apps debut July 29

Kareem Anderson

Image Credit: Office

Microsoft is continuing its cross platform push today by finally releasing Office 2016 for Mac. For Mac users still using Office, it has been a little over five years since the office suite had been addressed by Microsoft. On the Mac, Office received a few updates that brought more security features issued rather than UI and UX implementations. Since Office 2011 first debut on the Mac, a lot has changed in both the Microsoft and Apple camps.

Since 2010, OSX has gone through several visual and functional retooling to the user interface. Office 2011 and its antiquated toolbars, ribbons and iconography meant to compliment OSX Lion, and Mountain Lion were reminders to Mac users of Microsoft’s neglect for the platform. In addition to Office 2011 being a visual nightmare, the office suit suffered from a deficit in functionality. Anecdotally, Office 2011 users on the Mac often complained about performance, and lack of feature parity compared to Office users on Windows. In the same time, Microsoft revisited Office on the Windows side several times. Over the past five years, Office has gone from a mostly static box purchase meant to sustain workflows for years at a time, to a living online productivity tool.

Image Credit: Office Blog

With Office 2016 for Mac, Microsoft is now bringing its new cloud-connected productivity tools into a modern OSX environment. According to the Office team, “It works the way you expect, with the familiar ribbon interface and powerful task panes. Mac users will appreciate the modernized Office experience and the integration of Mac capabilities like a Full-Screen view and Multi-TouchTM gestures. With full Retina display support, your Office documents look sharper and more vibrant than ever.” Specifically, OSX users can look forward to built-in document sharing tools, multi-platform compatibility, improved animations, performance improvements, extended layout and design templates, and new PivotTable Slicers for compiling denser amounts of information.
 Image credit: Office blog

Each of the five apps in the Office suite comes with incorporated OSX user feedback. Kirk Koenigsbauer, corporate vice president for the Office Client Applications and Services team explained, “Mac preview participants provided us with over 100,000 pieces of feedback. Based on this feedback, we released seven updates in four months with significant improvements in performance and stability. We also added features like improved Mail Merge in Word, Propose New Time in Outlook and support for External Data Connections in Excel.”

For anyone who already happens to be an Office 365 customer, not only do those users get first dibs at the Office 2016 rollout but the Office teams plan on keeping up updates rolling. “We plan to release updates and new features for Office 365 customers at least once per quarter.”

Image credit: Office blog

In other news,  Office Universal Apps for Windows 10 will debut alongside Windows 10 on July 29, according to Mary Jo Foley. For most Insiders, the existence of Office Universal Apps is old news. However, for anyone not up to date on Windows 10 news, this addition will be a pleasant surprise after upgrading to Windows 10. The touch-friendly apps differ from the ‘touch-enabled’ Office apps in Office 2016 in two distinct ways. For Windows users who upgrade to Windows 10, the Apps will be made available for free on July 29, and they are designed with full-screen usability in mind. Animations, navigation, and user flow have been redone within the new Office Universal Apps. Beyond Word, Excel, Powerpoint and OneNote for Windows 10, Windows users will also receive newly minted mail and calendar clients in Outlook Mail and Outlook Calendar.

The wait for Office updates has been a long time coming for the Mac, iPad, iPhone, Android and Windows. However, it looks like Office finally has its footing and is ready to deliver an unparalleled productivity experience across devices and platforms.