Microsoft today announced the official launch of its next-generation office software designed for Mac users, Office 2016. The new Office 2016 software is the first major Mac release since Office 2011, and it brings new versions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint with redesigned, Retina optimized interfaces, new features, and a focus on collaboration and cloud integration.
Office for Mac 2016 has adopted many elements previously found in the Windows version of Office and the mobile Office apps for better cross-platform familiarity. For example, Office for Mac now uses the Ribbon to organize tools and formatting options, plus there’s a task pane for improved graphics customization in all three of the main Office apps, along with new themes and styles.
The software includes a new Yosemite-style design that takes advantage of features like full-screen support, Retina displays, and multi-touch gestures, while cloud integration makes all Microsoft files available across a range of devices.
Word 2016 for Mac includes a new Design tab for quickly customizing layouts, colors, and fonts while working on a document, and the multi-author experience has been improved. There’s a sharing interface at the top right of the app that allows multiple people to work on the same document at once, with threaded comments to communicate.
Excel 2016 for Mac’s chart preview feature suggests the charts that best fit a set of data and it adds deeper data analysis functionality with PivotTable slicers for dealing with large amounts of data to find patterns. Shortcuts within Excel and the other Office apps have been updated to match their Windows counterparts, and there’s improved autocomplete and a better formula builder that makes it easier to create spreadsheets and add data.
PowerPoint 2016 for Mac includes an improved Presenter view that shows current slide, next slide, speaker notes, and a timer, much like the PowerPoint for iOS app. In the top left, the presenter sees exactly what the audience sees, including animations in real time, for a better idea of how a presentation is going. There’s also a new animation pane for designing and tweaking animations, plus new slide transitions.
Outlook for Mac, released last October, is also designed to work with the new Office apps, with push mail support, an improved conversation view, and message previews, as is OneNote for Mac, released in March of 2014.
According to Microsoft, several major changes like improved Mail Merge for Word, Propose New Time in Outlook, and support for External Data Connections in Excel were added based on user feedback during the beta testing program. Microsoft plans to introduce new updates to the software at least once per quarter going forward.
Office2016 for Mac is available for all Office 365 subscribers users beginning today, and is officially supported on machines running the latest version of OS X, Yosemite. Office for Mac will also be available as a one-time purchase in September.
Office 365 Personal, which includes Office access for 1 computer, 1 phone, and 1 tablet, is priced at $69.99 per year or $6.99 per month. Office 365 Home, with access for 5 computers, 5 tablets, and 5 phones is priced at $99.99 per year or $9.99 per month. There are also Office 365 plans designed for students and businesses at different price points.