Microsoft 365 Apps Now Compatible with Apple M1 Chips

Microsoft this week announced that its Office 2019 and Microsoft 365 apps are now able to run on Mac devices using Apple's M1 silicon.

Microsoft added "native support for both Apple silicon and Intel-based Macs" with its December Microsoft 365 and Office 2019 releases, Microsoft indicated in a support article. Excel, OneNote, Outlook, PowerPoint and Word for the Mac are now based on the "Universal macOS binary." Users won't have to do anything as the macOS will load "the most optimal app components for your device," it added.

Apple described M1 last month as its "first chip designed specifically for the Mac," claiming speed advantages over Intel Core processors. The M1 is also optimized for Apple's macOS Big Sur, its latest major operating system release for the Mac. Apple indicated that "all of Apple's Mac software is now Universal and runs natively on M1 systems." By "Universal," Apple likely means that applications run on macOS, iOS and Android operating systems. Apple also has Rosetta 2 software that permits Macs with Apple-built silicon to run apps that were built for Intel processors.

Microsoft typically has continued to release Office versions for the Mac, although the new features often lag their Windows counterpart. This week, Microsoft indicated that its support for Macs using M1 technology "means that now our core flagship Office apps -- Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote -- will run faster and take full advantage of the performance improvements on new Macs, making you even more productive on the latest MacBook Air, 13-inch MacBook Pro, and Mac mini."

In addition, these Office apps for Mac, sold under Microsoft 365 subscriptions, are "Universal, so they will continue to run great on Macs with Intel processors," Microsoft indicated.

Microsoft is starting to deliver these updated Microsoft 365 apps for Macs with Apple silicon as early as this week for users that have automatic updating turned on. Otherwise, they can be downloaded from the Mac App Store.

Some of the Microsoft 365 apps for Mac aren't quite native M1 apps yet. For instance, Microsoft Teams was described as just being available in "Rosetta emulation mode on Macs with M1 and the browser." In general, Microsoft is working on providing "Universal app support for M1 Macs" for the near future.

New Features This Month
Microsoft released a redesigned Outlook for Mac e-mail client application in mid-October with the aim of making its look and feel seem more like a Mac. This Outlook for Mac product was designed for macOS Big Sur.

The new Outlook for Mac has new features that are already available to Windows users, such as the ability to switch calendars and join Teams meetings from them. It's possible to have separate work and personal contacts in Outlook for the Mac, as well. A shared mailbox feature, permitting teams to send from a common e-mail alias, is planned for release sometime this month, according to an Office 365 Roadmap item.

The new Outlook for Mac also supports Microsoft Search via a Tell Me search box, which lets users find e-mails, calendar events and files. Also available is a Data from Picture feature that lets users convert photos of tables into Excel charts.

Microsoft added support for iCloud accounts in its new Outlook for the Mac, but it's expected to arrive in "the coming weeks." The iCloud account support "will enable you to organize work and personal emails, contacts, and calendars together in one app," Microsoft indicated.

Features Yet To Come
Microsoft described a few new features that will be coming to Office 365 for Mac users.

It's already possible to use Microsoft Information Protection sensitivity labels to classify data in an organization, but it's currently a manual process for Mac users of Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint and Word. Microsoft is planning to add an automatic labeling capability to those apps in "early 2021."

A shared calendar feature will be coming to Outlook for Mac users, allowing users to show their calendars to co-workers. It'll be available at the beta test stage "in the first months of next year."

The ability to use "@mentions" to tag others into conversations is currently available to PowerPoint for Mac users. Microsoft is planning to release it for Word for Mac in a "Current Channel Preview in February 2021."

Microsoft plans to add a new "dictation toolbar" for Mac users that will let them create content in Word or Outlook using their voice. It'll be available to Insider Program testers "in early 2021."

About the Author

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