Yesterday Microsoft released Office 365 for Apple Silicon. I used the beta version and it’s solid. The most remarkable thing about this announcement is how quickly it happened. When Apple made the Intel switch, it took Microsoft years to make the switch. Maybe this is down to Apple getting better at transition developer tools or Microsoft being more on the ball (or both!) but if you told me a few years ago Apple was going to do a CPU switch and Office would be updated inside a month, I’d have laughed in your face. Congratulations to Microsoft for getting this out so quickly.
With the latest update to Microsoft Office for Mac, Microsoft has added much-improved tools for collaboration. I’ve only had the update for a day but I’ve been testing it out with a few friends, and it’s the closest I’ve seen yet to the Google suite. It even shows who is currently editing via small thumbnails. This is real-time collaboration. You can see your collaborator’s changes as they make them.
While this isn’t Google Docs yet, it is a significant step toward Google Docs-type collaboration. Even more impressive is that Microsoft is pulling this off through the native application. Google has an advantage of working through the browser. I have often felt it’s only a question of time before other companies catch up with Google’s real-time collaboration and it looks like we are starting to see that happen. Once we can have reliable collaboration across the board with the various office suites, it’ll be interesting to see how much staying power Google Docs has. There are still a lot of things I don’t like about Google Docs, but its real-time collaboration is so damn useful. If you work in the Microsoft Office environment, give their new collaboration tools a go. You may end up more impressed than you expect.
My post a few days ago about the future of Microsoft Office drew a lot of email. Here are a few random bits I picked up along the way:
- A lot of people really hate subscription software.
- Office 2011 has some Add-in support that Office365 still doesn’t support, like Mathtype
- I heard from an anonymous tipster that claims to be at Microsoft. The tipster said that: 1) Microsoft is “not going anywhere” on the Mac and we can expect Office365 into the future; 2) The subscription model solved their software piracy problem, nearly overnight, and is not going away. I always am hesitant to share anonymous information on this site but this one felt credible and makes sense.
Microsoft has been telling folks for a while that Microsoft Office 2011 is going to cease getting future development. Lately, they’ve made it even more explicit that if you upgrade to macOS High Sierra in a few weeks, you’re out of luck with Office 2011.
I have received several emails from people worried that this spells doom for Microsoft Office on the Mac. I don’t think that is necessarily true. Indeed, without any inside knowledge I’d argue that Microsoft Office is just fine on the Mac. Microsoft is in the software business. They make money selling software and, since they moved Microsoft Office over to a subscription model, I expect they’ve been doing pretty well at it.
When Steve Ballmer left Microsoft, I believe the company took a very big step toward a business model that includes putting its software on all platforms and away from Ballmer’s prior strategy of using Microsoft Office to trap people on Microsoft operating systems.
I attend plenty of conferences with lawyers and other fancy people that rely on Microsoft Office on their Mac and they are, by all accounts, signing up for Office365 in droves. I did the same thing. Since subscribing to Microsoft Office365, I’ve noticed the application has steadily improved with frequent updates. They also put considerable effort into the IOS versions of Microsoft Office.
I think a more likely explanation for the lack of support for Office 2011 in High Sierra is Microsoft’s further efforts to push everybody onto their subscription pricing model and devote further engineering resources to the currently shipping version of Microsoft Office, instead of one six years old.