Friday, 06 March 2015 16:05

Microsoft releases Office 2016 for Mac Preview at last Featured


Five years after Office 2011 for Mac was released, Microsoft has finally gotten around to releasing its long-awaited update as a free preview, dubbed Office 2016 for Mac.

Looking very similar to the current Windows version of Office 2013, the new version of Microsoft Office for Mac is here as a free preview, with the download clocking in at 2.66GB - and available here

A commenter named ‘DarrelCWebster’ at the Office blog announcing the release responds to a question as to whether an Office 2016 Preview for Windows is coming and whether it will run on Windows 7, with Webster stating “There will be a preview of Office 2016 for Windows available soon. It will run on Windows 7”, which naturally also includes Windows 8/8.1/10.

While the preview is free, the final version whenever it arrives presumably won’t be, available either as part of a monthly Office 365 subscription or at whatever standalone price Microsoft decides to charge should it offer it as a retail product.

Microsoft promises that ‘Office 2016 for Mac shares an unmistakably Office experience – but it is also thoughtfully designed to take advantage of the unique features of the Mac.’

At long last, Microsoft has boarded the Retina high-resolution graphics bandwagon after a disappointing lack of retina support in the past.

The office suite maker says there are ‘thousands of retina-optimized graphics, full screen view for native immersive experiences, and even little Mac affordances like scroll bounce.’

Given that I’m still downloading the new version myself, I may as well simply give you the details Microsoft has shared about what the new Office 2016 for Mac includes.

We’re told that there are ‘new and improved versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, and Outlook.’

In addition, ’the user experience has been modernised and makes it easier to get things done’, with a ‘redesigned ribbon’ that ‘intuitively organises features so searching is quick and easy.’

There’s a ‘refreshed task pane interface’ which ‘makes positioning, resizing, or rotating graphics easy so creating a specific layout is simple to create. And new themes and styles help pull it all together to produce stunning, professional documents.’

So, what are some of the specifics for each program in the suite?

First up is Word. Here we’re told that its ‘state of the art editing, reviewing and sharing tools make authoring and polishing documents easy.’

There’s a design tab that ‘allows you to manage layout, colours and fonts across a document, and the navigation pane helps you refine the document structure and efficiently navigate to points of interest. Threaded comments turn editing cycles into conversations, so you spend less time trying to connect the dots.’

Second is Excel. It has ‘many new charts, graphs, keyboard shortcuts and data entry enhancements (like formula builder and autocomplete) immediately make for more productive working.’

It also has ‘support for Excel 2013 (for Windows) functions [which] ensures that it’s easy to share files across platforms. The new Analysis ToolPak offers a wide range of statistical functions, including moving averages and exponential smoothing, and PivotTable Slicers help cut through large volumes of data to find patterns that answer questions.’

Third is Powerpoint. It has a new ‘Presenter Views’ capability which ‘displays the current slide, the next slide, notes and a timer on the Mac, while projecting only the presentation to the audience on the big screen.’

Meanwhile, a ‘new animation pane helps you build presentations faster, and new slide transitions ensures the finished product is polished and professional.’

Fourth is the recently released Outlook for Mac, which is now part of the preview suite.

It uses ‘push mail support to deliver an always-up-to-date inbox, has an improved conversation view automatically organises the inbox around threaded conversations and a new message preview gives you the first sentence of an email just below the subject line so users can quickly decide to read it now or come back later.’

Fifth is OneNote. This lets you ‘capture, organise and share ideas with digital notebooks that can be accessed on any device.’

You can use tags like “To Do” or “Important” or “Question” add structure to notes.

Its updated system ‘also helps to find things quickly with a powerful search engine that tracks tags, indexes typed notes and uses OCR to recognise text in images and handwritten notes.’

There's no version of Publisher for Mac, nor Access for Mac, but the Office programs above are certainly the most popular from the Office suite. 

Microsoft says all of this demonstrates its ‘commitment to cross-platform support and consistent experiences across devices. Unmistakably Office, but thoughtfully designed for the Mac.’

As you can imagine, the company is encouraging Mac users to download the apps today, and in Microsoft’s new spirit of wanting as much feedback as possible, they want users to share their experiences, with that feedback then used ‘finalise the product for release later this summer.’

Presumably that means the Australian winter, which I’m guessing Microsoft Australia’s PR company missed out on localising for Aussie readers, and which means sometime over the next three to six months.

An Office blog post with more information is here, while the download location for the preview is here. 



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