Hugely-recommended overhaul, but few new features
It's no longer enough for Microsoft to add the odd new feature and scrub up the appearance of an app: the world has moved on, not least in that we now call them all "apps" instead of "applications." With Office 2016 now available to Office 365 users (if their companies have enabled it, or if they sign up themselves), our attention did go first to the new version of Microsoft Word. Office for Mac really contains four major applications (and OneNote, which we'll call a minor one) though, and while we personally might lump PowerPoint and Outlook together into the guest-cast category, Microsoft Excel 2016 15.11.2 is definitely a star of the show.
The new version of Word for OS X is very, very good -- but so what?
If you have to use Microsoft Word at work, go get this now and be delighted with it. If you don't have to, if you're looking for a great word processor, it's just a little harder to recommend Word quite so readily. It's harder, and it's also very unfair, as 30 years of using various versions of Word have left us with biases against it. Word earned those biases, it's just difficult to think about going back to relying on it, even though Microsoft Word 2016 is the best and the shiniest version ever.
Flash, Microsoft Office, Apple Watch deprivation, tales of woe
It's Monday, and that means time for another episode of The MacNN Podcast! This week, as usual, we cover a range of topics from around the Apple and general tech world, and we throw in a cruel experiment in Apple Watch deprivation, mercilessly conducted on one of our own staffers. We also mourn the passing of Electronista, note the release of MS Office 2016 and the OS X and iOS public betas, and more. Show notes after the jump.
Standalone version will be available this fall, boasts many improvements
Following a four-month public beta period, Microsoft on Thursday released Office 2016 for Mac, now available for immediate download to existing Office 365 subscribers. The new release, strongly modeled on the existing design changes seen in the iPad version of the productivity suite, is the first new full version of Office for Mac since 2010, and adds features such as the Ribbon interface, sandboxing support, Retina screen optimization, and support for fullscreen view.
The last reason you need to print anything out just ended
It is wrong, just wrong that someone can send you a PDF and expect you to print it out, sign it, take it to your local post office and physically send them the piece of paper back. It's wrong, and it's also easy for them: one button and their job is done. Shock them by sending that PDF right back with your signature on.
Audio Description tracks added to Netflix-produced shows
Netflix is making some of its content more accessible to the visually impaired, by adding an alternate "Audio Description" track to shows. Starting with the recently-released Daredevil today and reaching other Netflix-produced shows in the coming weeks, the extra option provides a narration track that describes scenes and important character attributes, such as costumes, facial expressions, and actions.
Apple's Backup just gets on with it, until it doesn't
Apple's Time Machine and the Time Capsule I bought to use it on are the best things I've ever purchased that I've immediately forgotten, and didn't even realize I was using. I'm not sure what I did to backup anything before that came along, but I do have a big, big box of neatly-labelled floppy discs in my office, and no way to use them. Well, that's not quite true: I have used a couple as coasters for my tea mug. It's startling to think that I have several years of data on those discs that are effectively lost to me -- I could get them back with a concerted effort, and spending some money -- whereas in theory I now have multiple years of data available to me in an instant.
Updated app allows multiple users
Previously on Sway ... we reviewed Microsoft's latest app Office Sway back in January, and not only did we say lots of positive things, we managed to stop ourselves making a "walk this Sway" gag. Now Sway has been updated, and specifically to allow you to collaborate on these online articles with other people.
Office Lens originally launched on Windows Phone, out on iOS, in preview for Android
Microsoft is making an Office app it released last year for Windows Phone available to iOS and Android users. Office Lens is an imaging app that effectively turns a smartphone into a scanner, allowing users to electronically keep track of receipts, forms, letters, and other paperwork using their device's camera, storing it on Microsoft's OneNote and OneDrive cloud services for later retrieval.
The behemoth of office data processing returns -- and it is very good
We're not going to judge Microsoft Office for Mac 2016 in the detail or the depth that we will when it finally ships as a finished product. However, Microsoft has made it available in preview beta form, and it is irresistible. It's also very good, and if you have even a modicum of interest in Microsoft Office, you should try it now - though there are one or two caveats you'll want to keep in mind.
Building iPad version assisted in Mac rebuild and rethink of programs, company says
Microsoft on Thursday released a public preview beta of the programs that make up the forthcoming Office 2016 for Mac. The new versions, which inherit many of the features from the last Windows release, offer a Yosemite-inspired look that support Retina displays, full-screen mode, and other modern Mac and OS X features. The preview versions are completely free to download and use, but are intended to give customers a sneak peek and to gather feedback from users ahead of the final release.
Microsoft simplifies student enrollment process for free Office 365 subscription
Microsoft is offering a simpler way for students around the world to check their eligibility for a free Office 365 license. While free subscriptions have been around for a while, it typically involved a lengthy process to check for eligibility. Now, students and teachers need to just sign up with a valid school email address to receive their subscription, which includes installation of Office apps on up to five computers and up to five mobile devices, as well as 1TB of OneDrive storage.
Google drops IMAP client Sparrow for Inbox Gmail/Google Now hybrid
Once again, a popular Mac product originally developed independently and later bought by Google, has been discontinued. Like Snapseed before it, Google has decided to kill off popular email client Sparrow for both Mac and iOS in favor of its own Inbox product. The former program has been removed from both the iOS and Mac App Stores. The Mac program never received an update after Google's purchase of Sparrow in 2012, while the iOS one has languished since October of 2013.
Sunrise purchase believed to cost Microsoft at least $100M
Microsoft has confirmed it has acquired calendar app creator Sunrise. Rumored last week, the purchase provides Microsoft with a powerful calendar tool for iOS, Mac, Android, and a web-based version, and when combined with the earlier deal to buy Acompli, appears to show Microsoft is trying to improve its Office suite by incorporating already-successful third-party apps, rather than developing its own solutions.
Outlook preview edition for iOS, Android rebrands existing Acompli app
Microsoft has made its Office apps available to all Android users, following the limited preview release and the iOS version. The apps, including Word, Excel, and Powerpoint, are accompanied by a new preview of another Office app, with a rebranded version of email app Acompli as Outlook downloadable from both Google Play and the iTunes App Store.
Year-long subscriptions for Office 365 Home, Skype, Xbox Live, Xbox Music included
Microsoft has created a bundle for customers in the United States, collecting together subscriptions for the company's various online services. The Work & Play Bundle, sold through Microsoft Stores in the United States for a limited time, gives users an entire year of usage for its entertainment and productivity-related services at a discount.
Basic editing now open to users without Office 365 subscriptions
Microsoft has updated its previously iPad-only iOS Office apps with iPhone support. Although the iPhone interfaces are said to have full feature parity with the iPad, Microsoft has made various changes to accommodate a smaller screen. Chief among these is the "vertical ribbon," designed to keep editing tools within thumb reach at the bottom of the screen. In addition, Microsoft has decided to drop the Office365 subscription requirement previously needed to do anything more with the suite than read Office documents.
Updates arriving in 'the coming weeks'
Microsoft has announced a partnership with Dropbox that will bring the latter's cloud service into Office apps for iOS and Android. Integration is promised with updates in "the coming weeks" that will let people browse, edit, and share Dropbox files from within Office apps. Inside of Dropbox's proprietary app, people browsing Word, Excel, or PowerPoint files will see an option to edit them in the appropriate software.
Next Office for Mac due in late 2015
Confirming recent leaks, Microsoft has announced a new version of Outlook for Mac, incorporating several significant changes. The update includes a "modern," revamped user interface, with touches such as better scrolling and switching between Ribbon tabs. The underlying engine has also been made faster and more reliable, thanks to improvements in threading and database code.
Leak identifies coming changes to Mac suite
Following up on an earlier glimpse at a new Outlook, Chinese site cnBeta has produced even more information on Microsoft's plans for Office on the Mac. Leaked presentation slides suggest that it will ship in the first half of 2015, and that all apps will include full Retina support as well as an aesthetic matching OS X Yosemite. At the same time, the suite should more closely hew to the "look and feel" of Office for Windows. One such change is the use of the Quick Access Toolbar throughout the suite.
Shows Yosemite styling, Notification Center support, more
Images claiming to be from a leaked copy of the next version of Outlook for Mac have appeared on the Chinese site cnBeta, which may hint at an impending release for the long-awaited update to the Microsoft Office suite. The program is said to be called "Outlook for Mac 16," and may suggest that the next major Office revision for Mac may be be released alongside a new Windows version. The program appears to take on the design language of OS X Yosemite, and is said to be more unified with the Windows version.
Sway combines content from multiple sources, offers layout assistance
Microsoft has added a new app to Office, one which may help users create and share projects or documents for reading online. Sway is a simplified webpage creation tool that allows for content to be collected from a variety of sources and formatted in an attractive manner on a cloud-hosted page, without needing the user to have prior web development experience.
Cards in Office Delve show related contacts, documents
Microsoft is introducing a new search system to Office 365, which aims to provide information to the user just as they need it. Office Delve, previously codenamed "Oslo," will operate similar to Google now in pulling content from various online services and files stored in the cloud, in order to try and find relationships between documents, messages, and contacts.
Includes Home, Personal tiers
Microsoft has today updated the Office iPad apps -- including Word, Excel, and PowerPoint -- with in-app purchases of monthly Office 365 subscriptions. These are divided into Personal and Home tiers. The first costs $7 per month, and is limited to one iPad and one PC/Mac. It does, however, come with 1TB of cloud storage, and 60 minutes of Skype calling to cellphones and landlines.
Improves language detection, complex object handling, Outlook accounts
On Wednesday, Microsoft updated its standalone version of Office for Mac, Office 2011, to version 14.4.4. The update provides the latest fixes for Office, and includes general functionality improvements in Microsoft Word, particularly with keyboard language detection. For PowerPoint, it improves handling of certain complex objects, and in Outlook the update includes new descriptions for supported account types.
Excel, PowerPoint get custom improvements
Microsoft has updated its trio of Office apps for the iPad -- Word, Excel, and PowerPoint -- adding a number of significant features. Perhaps the biggest addition is support for PDF export, but new third-party fonts have also been added, as have new Picture tools that let people crop an image or reset it to an unaltered state. Other changes are specific to Excel and PowerPoint.
Android version of Office apps allegedly scheduled for release later this year
Microsoft is building a full suite of Office apps for Android, a report claims. Following the official port to the iPad it launched in March, Microsoft is said to be privately testing separate apps for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint for the mobile operating system, with the company apparently seeking businesses and individuals to provide feedback on pre-release versions.
E-mail sorting, an undo feature, in-line replies and chat options among updates
Microsoft spelled out some new features for Outlook.com today on their Office blog page about improvements to e-mail features and other connectivity. An advanced rules feature to sort e-mails and three other updates made their way to the online e-mail client ahead of Office 365 adoption.
Stats doubled in one month, says Microsoft
Downloads of Office for iPad have exceeded 27 million, according to the general manager for Microsoft's Office division, Julia White. White made the comment today during a keynote at Microsoft's TechEd conference in Houston. The figure is more than twice the 12 million Microsoft quoted on April 3rd, just a week after the suite reached the App Store.
Excel gets improved AutoFit, PowerPoint gets SmartGuides
Microsoft has released its first update for Office for iPad, introducing AirPrint support to all three apps. Word lets users print files with or without markup. Excel gives options to print a whole workbook, a single sheet, or a selected range, and all three apps let users print specific pages or slides.
Cheaper Office 365 subscription lowers computer, tablet, user count
Microsoft has launched a new cheaper tier of its Office 365 subscription service, aimed at individuals wanting to use the productivity suite. Hinted at last month, Office 365 Personal allows for the software to be installed and used on one PC or Mac and one tablet, including the iPad version, rather than the five computers and five tablets provided in the more expensive Office 365 Home Premium, renamed to Home, subscription plan.
Excel Online adds comments, OneNote gains printing options
Microsoft has made a number of updates to its Office Online web apps, just over a month after its rebranding and relaunch. Changes to the online versions of Excel, Word, PowerPoint, and OneNote apply to all users of the online productivity suite, with Chrome users also benefiting from the addition of the Office Online apps to the Chrome Web Store.
Technical limitations partly blamed for suite's delay
The recently-launched Office for iPad will get printing support "in due course," according to a Reddit AMA conducted by members of the software's engineering team. The team says it is also considering mathematical notation in OneNote, and working on implementation of comments and add/change conditional formatting in Excel. Something the suite won't support, though, is third-party Office apps, despite the fact that Microsoft allows desktop developers to hook into Office 365. Microsoft blames the situation on Apple's App Store policies, which block apps from installing code other than their own.
Testing continues with new OS X 10.9.3 beta, adds back local contact, calendar sync
On Thursday, Apple issued its fifth weekly beta of the forthcoming OS X Mavericks 10.9.3 to developers. In addition to the usual areas of testing focus -- graphics, audio, Mail and Safari -- the company also requested testing on the ability in iTunes to sync Calendar and Contact entries locally over USB. In earlier versions of iTunes 11, syncing was exclusively handled by iCloud. The new build, 13D33, contains no new known issues.
Word only Office app in Grossing category's top 10
Just a day after their release, the Office for iPad apps are already in high positions in the Top Free and Top Grossing charts at the App Store. The top three Free apps are currently Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, in that order; a related Microsoft app, OneNote, is in fourth. Word is #5 on the Top Grossing chart, while Excel is 12th, and PowerPoint is 29th.
Microsoft sacrifices profits to reach iPad users
Apple is claiming a 30 percent cut of Office 365 subscriptions bought through Microsoft's Office for iPad, as usual at the App Store, an Apple spokesperson confirms. Although people can sign up for Office 365 outside of the iPad apps, a $100 in-app purchase provides a one-year plan. That suggests that Microsoft is sacrificing a significant amount of revenue to one of its rivals in order to attract iPad users.
Microsoft brings industry-standard document editing to iOS
Although a lot of apps have tried to fill the gap with degrees of success, there's always been an undercurrent of demand for a full-scale iPad version of Office. Even if you can escape using Office personally, it's the workplace standard -- it just makes sense to have the suite on the world's most popular tablet. Now Office for iPad is here, and it's time to share some first impressions.
Carries over editing, ribbon interface, other features
(Updated with app download links, dropping of subscription requirement for Office Mobile for iPhone)) Microsoft is today officially releasing Office for iPad, a long-rumored port of its Windows and Mac work suite. The trio of apps let people do full editing of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents, while preserving the same formatting seen on the desktop. Each app uses a custom touch-tailored interface, for instance offering a special numerical/symbolic keyboard for Excel. The apps do however make use of the same "ribbon" interface scheme.
Suite would improve current multiplatform support
Alongside Office for iPad, Microsoft may also be preparing to launch a new licensing bundle today called the Enterprise Mobility Suite, sources say. The bundle is reportedly aimed at large-scale customers who need a way of managing Windows, iOS, and/or Android devices. While cross-platform support has been available from Microsoft for a while, EMS is expected to include Windows Intune, a new Azure Active Directory "Premium" option, and Azure Rights Management Services. Active Directory Premium is described as a paid version of Azure Active Directory with features like group-based app access, and self-service password resets and group management.
No patch currently available, but mitigation of the problem possible
Microsoft has issued an advisory to users of its Microsoft Word application. In the note, the company says that remote code execution is possible if users open a maliciously crafted rich-text format (RTF) file, or open the same maliciously-crafted file in Outlook while using Microsoft Word as the email viewer. Outlook 2010 through 2013 default to using Microsoft Word as the email viewer, making users more vulnerable to attack.
Software a free download, as expected
As anticipated last week, Microsoft has launched a free Mac version of OneNote at the Mac App Store. The software stores notes, lists, receipts, and other data. Most significantly it syncs the data across multiple platforms, including Windows, iOS, Android, Windows Phone, and the web.
Politics over Surface causing lost revenue; alternatives being adopted
Tired of waiting for Microsoft's flagship suite, Office, to be ported to iOS devices like the iPad, companies have turned to alternative means to create, revise and distribute documents in increasingly-mobile enterprise, institutional, small-business and collaborative workflows -- costing the Windows maker an estimated $2.5 billion annually in potential revenue. Sources say iPad and iPhone versions exist and are ready to go -- simply awaiting a release date complicated by politics.
Windows version should also go free
Microsoft is planning to launch a free version of OneNote for the Mac later this month as part of a plan to expand the functionality of the platform, sources say. The company currently has a paid version for Office for Windows, and free iOS, Android, and web apps, but has so far left OS X alone in the software's decade-plus history. Like the Mac version, the Windows title is also expected to become free.
More news promised soon
A new edition of Office for Mac will ship later this year, says Microsoft Business Group Lead Thorsten Hübschen. The executive made the comment at this week's CeBIT expo in Hannover, Germany. No details about planned upgrades are available, but development teams are said to be at work, and more news is due to be announced in the second quarter of the year. iOS and Android tablet versions of Office are described as possibilities; an Office for iPad has been rumored for years.
Repurposes Office domain for online productivity suite
One day after renaming its SkyDrive cloud storage to OneDrive, Microsoft has performed a second rebranding effort, this time on its online productivity suite. Office Web Apps is being renamed as "Office Online," and in an effort to make the service easier for users to discover and move away from Google Docs, Microsoft is now using the Office.com domain name for the web apps.
May beat touch-oriented Office interface to market
Microsoft's long-delayed Office for iPad may actually arrive sooner than people are anticipating, sources suggest. In October, former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer indicated that the iPad software wouldn't arrive until after a touch-oriented version of Office -- allegedly codenamed "Gemini" -- was launched for Windows. Toward the end of 2013, though, Ballmer and other executives are said to have changed their minds, and approved a recommendation from the Office team that the iPad suite -- codenamed "Miramar" -- go to market as soon as it's ready, even though that might mean eclipsing the Windows release.
Obama initiative valued at about $750 million
US President Barack Obama is today announcing commitments from several US corporations towards connecting more students to high-speed Internet, says the Associated Press. In all, about $750 million has been pledged; Apple is offering $100 million in iPads, computers, and other tools, while Verizon is providing the same amount in straight cash and in-kind contributions. AT&T and Sprint are offering free Internet access; Microsoft is promising copies of Windows at discounted rates, and 12 million free copies of Microsoft Office.
Elop would shift Office tactics as MS CEO
Former Nokia CEO Stephen Elop, if named as the next Microsoft CEO, would reportedly consider spinning off the company's Xbox and Bing divisions. A report from Bloomberg cites sources familiar with Elop's thinking in claiming that he would strike out in a direction quite different from that of outgoing CEO Steve Ballmer. Under Elop, the report holds, Microsoft would refocus on its popular Office suite, but with the aim of pushing Office onto as many platforms as possible.
Real-time collaboration competes with Google
Microsoft has introduced a range of new features to its Office 365 web apps, strengthening the free productivity tools amid a growing rivalry with Apple's iWork suite. Real-time co-authoring is the focal point for the web-based utilities, enabling multiple users to simultaneously collaborate on the same project. The feature essentially catches up with the capabilities of iWork and Google Docs.
Spells further delays for long-awaited iPad apps
Office for iPad "will be picked up when there's a touch-first user interface [for Office]," according to outgoing Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. The comment was made at a Gartner event in Florida earlier today. Ballmer didn't elaborate, however, except to say that the touch-first UI is "in progress."