Better late than never!
It’s been a while since Mac users were lucky enough to get a newer version of Microsoft Office. The most recent version has been Microsoft Office for Mac 2011- until now. Microsoft just unveiled a preview version of its next offering, Office 2016 for Mac. It is available as a free download to all users running Mac OS X Yosemite. Gone are the days of using Office 2011, especially if you’ve been using it on a MacBook Pro Retina, or the Mac Pro with Retina Display (in which case, your eyes will also thank MS for releasing this update).
The MS Office 2016 for Mac suite brings tons of improvements and new features to Word, Excel, Powerpoint, and also includes the Mac versions of OneNote and Outlook (which are already available on the Mac App Store). Just like its Windows counterpart, Office 2016 for Mac is highly integrated with the cloud, i.e. OneDrive. This means it has the same capabilities as Google Drive (or Google Docs, which ever way you like to call it), and iWork with iCloud. So for instance, multiple people can now edit the same Word document, and with the recent introduction of MS Office apps for iOS and Android devices, you can pick up on a mobile device where you left off on the Mac. Other than that, the UI is definitely a substantial improvement over what Mac users have been using so far, and is totally in-line with modern Mac apps design. If you’ve used Office 2013 on Windows (or by running Windows in Parallels Desktops, like most Mac users did out of desperation and after being fed up with Office 2011 on Mac), you’ll find Office 2016 pretty similar in terms of design. And most importantly, it is retina optimized, ensuring crisp and superb graphics on retina display Macs.
Before you get excited, here’s a reminder. Office 2016 for Mac is a preview version, also known as a public beta. It comes with an Auto-Update tool which would periodically update the apps with bugfixes till the product reaches a stable state. As per Microsoft, each build will expire almost 60 days after it is posted, and the final beta release will expire after one month of the actual product release. Since this is a beta application suite, you should expect some annoyances. Download it at your own risk as it will definitely be buggy, and might have unexpected behaviour as well. Of course, there’s a handy link to a feedback section where you can report issues that you face and give feedback to Microsoft, in true spirit of beta testing. Microsoft has been kind enough to bring it to the public, only to give an idea of the real deal, hence they aptly named it the “preview” version. The final release is expected later this year, once the beta testing is over. Stay tuned for our hands-on impressions on the latest suite of Office apps for the Mac!