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Microsoft Releases Office 2016 for Mac

On Thursday Microsoft released Office 2016 for Mac, the long-awaited productivity suite that integrates with Office 365, OneDrive, OneDrive for Business, and SharePoint so that users have access documents across personal and work accounts from their devices just by signing in with their Office accounts.

A preview of Office 2016 was made available in March and elicited some 100,000 pieces of feedback from testers. The final version came after seven updates in the intervening four months. Unlike the test version, the final version is not free. To buy it, you have to be an Office 365 subscriber. Discounts are available for students.

Cloud Power

Office for Mac is now powered by the cloud so users can access their documents anytime, anywhere, and on any device, according to Kirk Koenigsbauer, corporate vice president for Microsoft’s Office Client Applications and Services team.

“New, built-in document sharing tools make it easy to invite teammates to work on a document together,” said Koenigsbauer on the Office blog. “When sharing documents, you won’t have to worry about losing content or formatting, as Office for Mac offers unparalleled compatibility with Office on PCs, tablets, phones and online.”

Office 2016 for Mac won’t be available as a standalone purchase option until September. No exact release date has been set and no pricing information is available, likely indicating that Microsoft wants to sell the suite via subscription first. The Windows desktop version is still in preview, slated to launch this fall, said Microsoft.

The latest versions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint are currently available for iPhone, iPad, Android tablets and Android phones, with the touch-first universal apps for Windows 10 coming soon, according to Microsoft.

Retina Display

Like the preview, Office 2016 for Mac can be installed alongside Office for Mac 2011. Office 2016 for Mac requires OS X 10.10 Yosemite. Office 2016 for Mac includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, and Outlook. OneNote is free on all platforms including OS X, and Outlook for Mac is already available separately for Office 365 users.

For users who already have Office on PCs or iPads, the new Mac edition contains the familiar ribbon interface and task panes. Microsoft designed the task pane interface to make it easier to position, resize, and rotate graphics. The new Office for Mac also offers full Retina display support with Retina-optimized graphics. Office 2011 for Mac had some Retina support, but mainly focused on the display and the most common parts of the user interface.

Microsoft has extended the support timeline for Office for Mac 2011, which had been scheduled to be retired next January, by almost two years, presumably to give customers more than five months to upgrade.

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