back to article What’s new in Office 2016 for Mac (and why it doesn't totally suck)

Microsoft has released a self-destructing preview of Office 2016 for Mac – Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and OneNote – but it still is not the equal of its PC counterpart. Should Office work as well on OS X as on Windows? You can imagine the question being debated on Microsoft's Redmond campus. Is it better to keep users …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Do I see what I think I see…?

    … a menu bar? Up the top of the screen?

    Or is it an illusion?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Do I see what I think I see…?

      It's a Mac, there's always a menu bar at the top of the screen. That's part of Apple's philosophy. Windows--and usually *nix GUIs--tie the menu bar to the application, but Apple has always had the fixed menu bar at the top of the screen.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Do I see what I think I see…?

        I realise it's a standard Apple thing to have a menu bar up the top of the screen, and it's not where on the screen it's positioned, just its mere existence.

        A menu bar seen on a Office installation is something I have not seen in nearly 10 years on Windows.

        I'm just questioning if it's the real deal or if the menu items are stripped down to uselessness merely to tick a box for Apple.

        1. Dan 55 Silver badge

          Re: Do I see what I think I see…?

          In Office Mac 2011 it was a complete a menu as in Office Windows 2003. I guess they'd have a death wish if they were to prune it back.

    2. Tom Samplonius

      Re: Do I see what I think I see…?

      " Do I see what I think I see…? … a menu bar? Up the top of the screen?"

      Of course, Mac apps need to have a menu bar. All Mac apps have them.

    3. joed Silver badge

      Re: Do I see what I think I see…?

      Not only the menu bar but none of text/symbols of GUI is washed out to strain eyesight of users (the way it's on Windows).

      I guess we (Windows folks) can't have nice toys.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Trollface

    I suppose the real question is "Have they added any new functionality that people are likely to need since Office 97?"

    Or Office 2.0 for that matter....

  3. PhilipN Silver badge

    There is only one critical feature

    Compatibility.

    There is nothing MS can do to make me happier than to ensure 100 per cent compatibility between docx under Windows and docx under OS/X. Right now it may be 99.9 but that other 0.1 per cent is deadly to the point where I care absolutely nothing for anything else.

    Otherwise, a handy little summary - thanks.

    1. druck
      Mushroom

      Re: There is only one critical feature

      Not even Microsoft can promise to get that 0.1% working between their Windows versions, due to abysmal documentation of OOXML that Microsoft forced through the standards process.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How cloud dependent is this?

    As someone who does go off grid (viz the internet) for up to 3 weeks at a time I really don't want any app that I have installed to barf because it can't phone home to the mothership for a session of 'there there child I'm still here'.

    Cloud based apps are no use to me at all.

    Lets say that I'm camped out on a remote Scottish Moor for a couple of week in order to photograph Golden Eagles (yes I have a permit). No mobile connection. How do I work on my laptop (charged by solar panel) if the apps won't work.

    If MS fail to release a non cloud tied version of this then I know that I won't be alone in staying with Office 2011.

  5. gary27

    Boot camp still required then

    Shame only 32 bit, 64 bit noticably faster for me.

    I tried Excel 2011 on my £3k macbook pro and it was horrible, then I tried both Parralels and vmware fusion - neither could handle large spreadhseets 30 mb i need to run, so than I tried boot camp.

    Brilliant works flawlessly - I can now run Excel 2013 64 bit - just as fast as on a monster samsung series 7 gamer I have - but on a much sleeker, much more portible device and with stunning graphics, even running 3 ultra high res screens at same time!

    ssd pcie drive is so fast to reboot its not really a problem switching between os's - sublime text 3 much nicer on mac for coding work, also postgres runs much better on mac - windows 8.1 is still an abomination of a user experience, but is very fast and stable for running huge excel models.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Boot camp still required then

      Most add-ins of any worth are 32-bit only which is why MS themselves recommend 32-bit versions for compatibility reasons. If you need 64-bit Excel I'd suggest you're definitely using the wrong tool for the job.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Boot camp still required then

        > If you need 64-bit Excel I'd suggest you're definitely using the wrong tool for the job.

        You don't need 64-bit Excel for larger spreadsheets handling bigger numbers. That's naive rubbish.

        Applications compiled for 64-bit instruction set can take advantage of faster/"larger" instructions and as a consequence often give much better performance for the same task.

  6. Quentin North

    Outlook 2016 still fails

    I have had the outlook 2016 beta for a while and it still fails compared to outlook 2013. Calendar still doesn't properly look up user names from AD but just shows the standard email format name and you still can't get the at a glance summary of today's activities with diary events and tasks on the right sidebar of the Mail window. This latter point is a real shame because it is a really useful feature of the outlook for windows UI. If it still uses EWS it will probably regularly orphan repeating calendar entries too. I'm still living with that legacy of Entourage, a truly shite piece of software.

    That said outlook 2016 doesn't suffer from the annoying greyed out flags in compressed view that outlook 2013 does. A nightmare if you are colur blind because you can't tell red from grey.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    but do embedded office files in one document open?

    Not being able to open embedded word or excel file in documents shared to me had always been the single most stumbling block for me,, inevitably leading to a Windows virtuabox office install needed alongside

    I can live with the extra features missing regularly unused, embedded files are regularly used in most places I've worked,,, add this I'll drop the vm

  8. Jason Hindle Bronze badge

    I'm super happy with Office 2011

    I hear of compatibility issues, which Micrsoft should address, but they haven't really effectrd me so far*. I have no issues with the interface (quite like the combination of ribbon and menu).

    Edit: I should add that I don't use Outlook for Mac. Corporate webmail has been (just about) enough for my needs.

    * Well there is one annoyance. One of our corporate template spreadsheets links some buttons, on the spreadsheet, with VB macros. The button loses its link to the macro, when I load the spreadsheet into Excel 2011. It's easy enough to reassign.

  9. ShelLuser
    Windows

    Is MS trying to make me ditch Windows?

    Right now I still heavily use Office 2010 because I really enjoy this version, and I absolutely dislike the modern interface. Those SCREAMING MENU OPTIONS irritate me to no end, and I also don't think too positively about the simple looks in the interface.

    However, when looking at that Excel comparison on the first page I must say that Excel 2016 for Mac doesn't look all too bad. The icons are actually "feature rich" icons; with clear shown detail as to the 'clickable' area, there is depth in the ribbon area; shown without trying to make the interface and the working area "blend in" and of course no screaming menu options.

    I don't like the default colour scheme all that much, but that's just one click of mouse away.

    So yeah; is Microsoft trying to make us all use Macs?

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Still no reason to buy Office for me, then.

    As far as I can tell from the people I know that made the switch, about the only reason they buy MS Office for Mac is because they (think they) need Outlook, and indeed, I still have not seen anything integrated that works as well. To me, that is amazing because the "as well" in the previous sentence actually stands for "just about functional" because it's not a great program to start with. Oh, btw, keep in mind that Outlook message preview has been implicated in many inadvertent launches of malware - beware if you get a spam message, as highlighting may trigger the content in what I would call a severe case of irony.

    I don't like the Office UI in general (especially since the ribbon), but I'm happy to agree that that is personal taste (or lack thereof on my part). I am glad that MS has improved the Document Map to such a level that they have even taken the name of the feature that has been in OpenOffice (and derivatives) for years, the Navigator. It's one of the best tools ever if you work on larger documents.

    As for the Powerpoint "improvements", personally, I think the best improvement they offered of late was the patch that borked the damn thing. Given more features to executives is a bit like giving a hand grenade to a child with the pin already removed: you *know* it's not going to end well...

    There *is* a reason why you'd want Office, though: if you build stupendously big and complex spreadsheets (you know, the inauditable things that businesses base corporate decisions on) you really have no option but to run MS Office, and run it on Windows. I suspect MS is avoiding making a 64bit version of it for OSX because it may run so much faster that they accidentally cause a wholesale migration (come to think of it, I suspect they have already discovered this, otherwise the decision to leave it 32bit is just impossible to explain).

    So, no sale here, but I can see some people needing it after all.

  11. Ed

    I personally prefer the look of the Mac version.

  12. Michael Maxwell

    menu and ribbon

    Having a real menu is *almost* enough to make me want to switch from Windows to a Mac. Can you get rid of the blankety-blank ribbon on the Mac version, and just use the menu?

    (I use OpenOffice on Windows at home, and it still has the menu. No choice at work, unfortunately.)

  13. Snapper
    FAIL

    Same old, same old.

    I've been using MS stuff on Macs since Word 3, and I think Microsoft are still the same rip-off company they've always been.

    MS people are patting themselves on the back for making the big jump from Office 2011 (released in 2010) to Office 2016 (TBR in 2015).

    What they have actually done is played around with the graphics and done a very minor upgrade to a couple of the apps. The sort of upgrade that MIGHT get a .5 indication on anything by another company.

    Excel is still 32-bit! Jaw-dropping, just...... jaw-dropping. HELLLOOOOO Microsoft! It's 2015!

    Needs to run on Yosemite because your stupid coders can't work out how to make it work properly with older Mac OS's! Would any other company expect to get away with this (apart from Apple of course)?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Same old, same old.

      Excel is still 32-bit! Jaw-dropping, just...... jaw-dropping. HELLLOOOOO Microsoft! It's 2015!

      Given availability of tools & resources this MUST be deliberate (because, as you rightly identify, it's friggin' 2015 so 64bit is not really a new concept), which makes me wonder why.

  14. Annihilator
    Joke

    General approach?

    "Microsoft has released a self-destructing preview of Office 2016 for Mac "

    Pretty sure that's been the experience of the full versions of Office for Mac to date too, not just the 2016 preview...

    Hopefully this version brings it in line, but I'm not holding my breath.

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