Back to the future with Office 2016 for OSX

Posted on July 9, 2015


For those longer in the tooth than they may wish to reflect on, Microsoft Office started its life on the Apple Mac, so in good old heritage terms Microsoft has lead with the latest version of their flagship Office Suite 2016 on Apples OSX. At least for those subscribed to Microsoft Office 365. For full details of the latest and greatest see the Office blog ‘Office 2016 for Mac is here!

As for the Windows OS users, patience, its not all gravy for the Apple lovies.

Despite leading on the OSX platform and the polished all new modern feel and up to date Office functions (if you opt for the new look over the ‘Classic’ post install) you still get the feeling that Office 2016 for the Mac retains some avoidable quirks that remind users that life is not so sweet on OSX. Quirks that do not do justice to the quality the suite aspires to. For example:

  1. Removing previous versions of Office and all the detritus that goes with it. What is even on OSX becoming a simple uninstall for many software vendor apps remains for Microsoft Office users an off-roading trip through the user and systems Libraries of the OSX file system. Reminding users that OSX is a thin veneer of touchy feely user interface over a raw UNIX/LINUX (Darwin) derivative. A realm that few Apple Mac dedicated followers of fashion will feel total comfortable, and the need to reveal hidden systems folders a recipe for problems if users do not strictly follow the protracted guidance in the form of a Microsoft Support article. Just to add insult to injury it is a ‘FAST PUBLISH’ support article, like some kind of afterthought. For those of you not familiar with this class of support document quote “The information contained herein is provided as-is in response to emerging issues. As a result of the speed in making it available, the materials may include typographical errors and may be revised at any time without notice.” So even following the steps diligently could still have unforeseen consequences. For the article see ‘How to completely remove Office for Mac 2011
  2. Outlook – It continuous to take a different layout and feel to its PC cousin which to the OSX users is a plus, as for many the layout is a lot more orderly and intuitive when running multiple email profiles as many users do today. But for all the improvements Microsoft continue to aggravate and demonstrate a state of deaf and dump to ignore one of the most sought after features that goes back before Office 2011 for OSX. Where is the Format Painter? Functionality that is one of the critical tools in email compilation on the PC. eMail by its nature is often compiled from snippets of material aggregated into single missives. All these snippets coming with their own styles that in Outlook for the PC is remedied swiftly by a quick swipe of the Format Painter (Brush Icon). OSX Outlook users have had to forgo this functionality with the lame guidance form Microsoft that you can use Microsoft Word as the editor for composing email. What a protraction, Open new Word Doc > Change to Web Layout (so you see what end users will get) > compose message > File > Share > eMail (as HTML). If you have got this far and your default web client is Outlook then job done, but not viable for even light email users. I do not see PC users standing for that for more than 2 seconds.

Unconscious on Microsoft part I would be gracious enough to suggest, but in a world where Mac users are flocking to Microsoft Office 365, in the new world OSX represents part of the software contact surface area for Microsoft to broaden its appeal (and margin). Even for harden Microsoft / PC evangelists, as Systems Administrators we are having to be inclusive with Apple devices and OSX as a mainstay in enterprise computing.  So come on Microsoft you know you can do better …..

  1. Did no one THINK that users would wish to clean out their old Office installs. Script it, and if your frightened of doing damage give users some prompts with informed options and simple roll-backs. Other vendors do so why not you?
  2. Is no-one LISTENING to users feedback that is all over the community boards. In true ‘Cloud Evergreen’ style get an update rolled out ASAP and let’s see the Format Painter, you will make some friends overnight on this if you can be bothered.

It is no longer good practice to turn a deaf ear and act blind to non-PC users. In the word of Satya Nadella (CEO of Microsoft) ‘Key attribute is in the MOBILITY of the experience, the computing of what we interface with is ubiquitous’.