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Office 365 Users Get First Crack at Office 2016 for Mac

Microsoft on Thursday announced the availability of its Office 2016 for Mac product, which will be released first to Office 365 subscribers.

Office 365 subscribers with Home, Personal, Business, Business Premium, E3 or ProPlus plans can now download the productivity suite, which has new versions of Excel, OneNote, Outlook, PowerPoint and Word.

The separate Office 2016 for Mac product that's not associated with an Office 365 subscription plan will be available sometime in September, according to Microsoft's announcement.

Volume licensing customers will be able to get Office 2016 for Mac in August, according to a Microsoft spokesperson. It will be available from Microsoft's Volume Licensing Service Center.

Office 2016 for Mac includes some updated features, but Office 365 subscribers will continue to get feature updates "at least once per quarter," per Microsoft's announcement. The non-Office 365 version of Office 2016 for Mac won't follow this update cycle, though, according to the spokesperson.

With this release, Microsoft is claiming to have "modernized" the user interface of Office 2016 for Mac while also supporting Apple-branded capabilities such as Retina displays, Multi-Touch gestures and Full Screen views. It's also claiming that document formatting won't be lost when sharing documents between Macs and PCs.

Office for Mac 2016 was improved using 100,000 pieces of feedback from the beta version, which represented the product's largest beta participation yet. Based on that feedback, Microsoft added an "improved mail merge in Word." It added a "propose new time" feature in Outlook. Excel got support for "external data connections."

Microsoft cited a few suite improvements in its announcement. Excel now recommends charts based on the data being used and offers chart previews. It also has a "new PivotTable Slicers" feature for displaying data. The OneNote note-taking app was described as a completely new addition.

Outlook now gets its e-mail via a push process, which keeps the in-box more current. Microsoft added a "conversation view" feature to Outlook that keeps threaded conversations together. Messages also now arrive in preview form showing the subject line and first sentence.

PowerPoint includes a "presenter view." It's an aid to presenters, displaying notes, a timer and the next slide, as well as the previous one. Microsoft also added an "animation pane" to help with building animations into presentations.

Word got a new "design" tab to help with document layouts. Microsoft also added the ability to collaborate with others on Word documents using a built-in conversation pane.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.

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