I’ve got good news for Mac users who have been pining away for a more modern version of Microsoft Office. Today, you can access a pre-release preview version of Office 2016 for Mac, which looks and works much like recent Windows versions of the suite and provides better performance and reliability across Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and OneNote. The final version of the product will ship this summer, well ahead of Office 2016 for Windows.
Here’s what’s happening.
Which apps? Office 2016 for Mac includes new versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and OneNote.
Built for Mac. Office 2016 for Mac Preview supports “full retina display support with thousands of retina-optimized graphics, full screen view for native immersive experiences, and even little Mac affordances like scroll bounce,” Microsoft says.
Unmistakably Office. Unlike the past several Office:Mac releases, Office 2016 for Mac Preview is a modern Office suite that looks and works much like Office 2013 for Windows or the upcoming Office 2016 for Windows release. That means real ribbon user experiences that are consistent with those on Windows, a new task pane interface for positioning, resizing, or rotating graphics. And new themes and styles that will help you create stunning, professional documents. It’s quite possibly the first-ever first-class version of Office for Mac.
Office 365, OneDrive, OneDrive for Business, and SharePoint integration. Obviously, you can access your files across devices by signing in with your Microsoft account and/or work account(s).
Word 2016 for Mac. Microsoft’s latest word processing application features a Design tab, as on Windows, so you can manage layout, colors, and fonts across a document, and a navigation pane for viewing and editing the document structure and navigating with the document. Comments are now threaded like conversations too.
Excel 2016 for Mac. Microsoft’s spreadsheet solution now features data entry enhancements such as Formula Builder and Autocomplete, support for Excel 2013 for Windows functions for interoperability across platforms, a new Analysis ToolPak with statistical functions (moving averages and exponential smoothing, among others), and PivotTable Slicers for cutting through large volumes of data to find patterns. Keyboard shortcuts are mostly consistent with Windows now as well.
PowerPoint 2016 for Mac. Use the new Presenter View to take control of live presentations, with current and next slide displays, notes, and a timer for you, while your audience sees only the presentation. There’s also a new animation pane and new slide transitions.
Outlook 2016 for Mac. Released separately recently, Outlook 2016 for Mac is now part of Office for Mac. It features push mail, an improved Conversation View, and new Message Preview functionality.
OneNote 2016 for Mac. Also previously available, Outlook 2016 for Mac is a full-featured OneNote experience, with tagging, deeply integrated search with OCR capabilities for images, and more.
Works alongside Office for Mac 2011. If you’re using the current version of Office for Mac, no worries: Office 2016 for Mac Preview can be used alongside Office for Mac 2011.
Regular updates. Microsoft says it will update the preview regularly, and that updates will arrive via a notification from the Office for Mac Auto-Update tool. Each build will expire roughly 60 days after its initial release, and the final preview build will continue to function for roughly one month after the official launch date this summer.
Requires Yosemite. Office 2016 for Mac Preview is supported only on the very latest version of Mac OS X, Yosemite (10.10).
Language support. Office 2016 for Mac Preview supports the Brazilian Portuguese, Chinese (Simplified), Chinese (Traditional), Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Norwegian Bokmal, Polish, Russian, Spanish, and Swedish languages.
I’m downloading the preview now and will detail my experiences with this eagerly-awaited new office productivity suite soon.