Office 2016 for Mac is Now Aligned with Windows, Android, and iOS

Posted on January 18, 2018 by Paul Thurrott in iOS, Office with 21 Comments

Office 2016 for Mac is Now Aligned with Windows, Android, and iOS

Microsoft today announced a major new release of Office 2016 for Mac that aligns this product with the versions on Windows, Android, and iOS.

“Mac Office 2016 version 16 is now live! For the first time in over 20 years, Office is again built out of one codebase for all platforms (Windows, Mac, iOS, Android)!” Microsoft principle software engineer Erik Schwiebert tweeted today. “Massive code alignment under the hood, bringing new user features such as real-time collaboration in Word and PPT, more formulas and multithreaded recalc in Excel, etc!”

So, I’m a bit confused by what he means by “one codebase,” since there is no way these products are built in their entity using the same code. And I also know that Microsoft trying to base Mac Office on Windows Office was a major boondoggle in the late 1990’s/2000’s, so it’s interesting that things have evolved to the point where this is both viable and desirable today.

(When I asked Schwiebert about this on Twitter, he recommended watching this video, which I’m doing now. But he noted that “the shared code is all C++. Each platform has native code interfacing with the OS [ie, Objective C for Mac and iOS, Java for Android, C/C++ for Windows, etc].” –Paul)

I’ve reached out to Microsoft for an explanation. In the meantime, it’s very clear that Mac Office 2016 version 16 is a major upgrade, and it does obviously add a lot of features that users of Office on other platforms have been enjoying.

Here’s what’s new, according to Microsoft.

Word 2016

Edit with others in real time. Thumbnails in the upper-right corner of the window show who else is working with you in a shared document. Flag icons show where others are working and you can view changes as they type. Learn more

Auto save. Changes are saved automatically for documents, worksheets, and presentations stored in the cloud, and you can see others’ updates in seconds. Need to roll back? Check the version history for a list of changes and access to earlier versions. Learn more

Quickly access your sites and groups. Quickly find presentations stored in your frequently used sites and groups in the Open menu.

Excel

Collaborative editing. Work with others at the same time in your workbook. Thumbnails in the upper-right corner of the window show who else is viewing or editing the file with you. Learn more

Auto save. Changes are saved automatically for documents, worksheets, and presentations stored in the cloud, and you can see others’ updates in seconds. Need to roll back? Check the version history for a list of changes and access to earlier versions. Learn more

More charts. Use new charts, such as funnel, sunburst and histogram, to transform your data into professional visualizations, or use the new Map chart type to transform geographic data into a map with just a few steps.

More functions. Shorten the formulas you write using the new logical functions IFS and SWITCH.

Quickly access your sites and groups. Quickly find presentations stored in your frequently used sites and groups in the Open menu.

Better support for PivotTable charts. Change your filters in a PivotTable, and the chart you created will automatically adjust to show exactly what you want.

Multi-threaded calculation. Formulas are updated faster when values are changed, because Excel uses multiple processing threads.

PowerPoint

Edit with others in real time. Thumbnails in the upper-right corner of the window show who else is working with you in a shared document. Flag icons show where others are working and you can view changes as they type. Learn more

Auto save. Changes are saved automatically for documents, worksheets, and presentations stored in the cloud, and you can see others’ updates in seconds. Need to roll back? Check the version history for a list of changes and access to earlier versions. Learn more

See what’s changed. Slides that have been modified by others while you were away are highlighted. Learn more

A quick start to your research. Starting from scratch is hard. QuickStarter automatically creates an outline for your topic of choice with suggested talking points and designs that make your presentation pop. Learn more

Trim media. Remove unwanted content from the beginning or end of an audio or video clip. Learn more

Quickly access your sites and groups. Quickly find presentations stored in your frequently used sites and groups in the Open menu.

Laser pointer in Slide Show. Use your mouse as a laser pointer to draw attention to certain parts of your slide.

Outlook

Archive or delete with just one swipe. Save time organizing your Inbox by swiping left with two fingers across the touchpad to archive an email or swiping right to delete it.

Support for Google Calendar and Contacts. No need to move between apps! Manage your Google Calendar and Contacts without leaving Outlook.

I’m traveling, so I’m sans MacBook, but I’ll look at this update when I get home.

 

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Comments (25)

25 responses to “Office 2016 for Mac is Now Aligned with Windows, Android, and iOS”

  1. skane2600

    It probably was done using "#ifdef hell" like it was in the old days. What you end up with is four different programs source-coupled together in a single set of files. "alignment" strikes me as a weasel-word. I'm pretty sure one couldn't use VBScript to automate Office running on iOS like you can in Windows.

    • skane2600

      In reply to terrencecrowley:

      Thanks for the information. I'll have to go back and read it more carefully to be sure, but my quick impression is that the details on how the differences in each platform are handled doesn't seem to be spelled out. I was a bit glib about ifdefs but obviously some decisions based on what platform Office is running on has to be made somewhere in the code.


      There's also the question of what capabilities does a cross-platform Office have to support to be legitimately called "Office" (beyond the fact that MS has the right to define it anyway they choose). AFAICT some capabilities of Office on Windows simply can't be performed on the UWP platform and some other platforms due to their architecture. Being able to automate Office applications externally without modifying Office's configuration or adding macros to documents or even having the application aware of the entity performing the automation is very powerful.

      • terrencecrowley

        In reply to skane2600:

        Every application has to draw a line about where does the application end and the OS start. That's not trying to be weaselly - that's just the facts of life. The alignment using this more rigorous modern cross-platform approach for the Mac version has been harder than the initial versions on UWP/iOS/Android since the Mac versions have the most legacy and most functionality. So more code had to be rigorously refactored to get alignment. Those mobile versions are also being functionally enhanced - again, an effort/functionality trade-off that is ongoing. (Note I am no longer at Microsoft but this is the culmination of an effort I shepherded during my time there.)

  2. hrlngrv

    One code base could involve a helluva lot of #IFDEF's and the like. As long as the respective OSes handle all I/O so that pen, finger, mouse and keyboard inputs all read into Office programs the same, I figure most of the code could be the same. Likewise using OS dialogs for file open/save.

    Getting into the details, Excel worksheet functions should be able to use a single code base. As should pivot tables, charting, tables and structured referencing. And it'd be really nice if the VBA Editor for Macs were a lot more complete.

  3. andrewtechhelp

    Has anyone else found that the Autosave still isn't appearing in Word 2016 on Windows? It appears in Word 16.9 on Mac, Excel 16.9 on Mac, PowerPoint 16.9 on Mac, Excel 2016 on Windows and PowerPoint 2016 on Windows, but not Word 2016 on Windows. All the suite is up to date (version 1612 installed) and am an Office 365 Home Subscriber. Quite odd.

  4. James Wilson

    I'm not sure if I'm using the correct Office then as this news story sounds new but I'm running Mac Office v16.9 and have been using Office (what I thought was 16) for a while now.

  5. clowg

    Does anyone know if this new version 16 will ever make it into the Volume Licensing Service Center downloads?

  6. jcbeckman

    This would be great if it worked. Excel has become totally unusable. ANY change to the spreadsheet I am working with crashes it. ANYTHING. Change the name of a tab, BOOM. Add a tab, BOOM. Delete a tab, boom. Delete missing web content, BOOM. This was working with the previous version. So time to visit my Time Machine backup and home I can just grab the old Excel from there.


    UPDATE: Lucked into the answer. Loaded the old version from another Mac, then opened my spreadsheet - Excel said it's document cache was invalid and said it needed a restart, then went away. Opened it again, the cache was cleared, and I was able to edit the document in the old version. Closed it, started the new version again, and now it is working. If I hadn't had access to an old version I'd be hosed right now though.

  7. will

    What’s is interesting about this is that while they may share the same code base and features, they are working on new UI’s that do not match the Windows versions for Mac. They said that people want the programs to feel more like Mac apps than Windows apps on a Mac.


    So I guess while the functions could be the same, the interfaces might look and act differently...if they move forward with that plan.

  8. chrisrut

    I think the single code base is a big deal - quite an accomplishment; confirms and concludes MS' objective of being everywhere it's users go. In effect, the limits of the experience on any given device will be those imposed by the device itself, not by the codebase.

  9. Steven Stolarski

    On the windows version of outlook I can drag an email to the ‘Task’ link to quickly create a task from the inbox. This keeps my inbox clean and has become essential to my daily workflow. This hasn’t worked on the corresponding version on the Mac. I hope this unified codebase brings this feature into parity.

  10. harmjr

    To me this does not mean much. Now if they said the same functionality or UI on any device (which I doubt they can ever do) that would be impressive.


    So I would ask others the following questions does this mean anything to you and if it does why?

    • IanYates82

      In reply to harmjr:

      The ipad and Android apps started this, as they shared a common core of c++ code with os specific UI code on top. This builds upon that. It'll mean a lot more compatibility, making it easier to have the Mac, and others, support things we take for granted on Windows. That includes those new Excel formula functions, multi threaded calcs, multi-user editing, etc.

  11. Stooks

    As a Mac user most of the time, the only app I still use on a regular basis in theOffice 2016 is Excel. I will open Word Documents but I do not create any document with Word anymore. The Mac mail/contact/calendar apps work really well with Exchange servers and works way better with macOS than Office does.


    I have been using Office since 3.0 and it seems odd not to really care about it anymore.

  12. skane2600

    I don't think having a single-code base provides any direct benefit to users. Having identical features on every platform (regardless of how it is achieved at the source-code level) is more important.

  13. brettscoast

    Thanks for the writeup Paul. This looks like a major game changer in office development moving forward there has obviously been a lot of work done under the hood of office to make this happen the video is well worth watching. I'll be extremely interested in future posts on this subject and further feedback from Microsoft good stuff.

  14. Winner

    Well, it only took like two decades or so.

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