Microsoft announced the preview version of Office 2016 for Mac this week so I downloaded it to see how it’s shaping up. As you can see from the screenshot of Word, the interface is a little cleaner and much closer to the PC equivalent. But the big difference is that the new versions have much better integration with Microsoft’s cloud storage platform, OneDrive. This is more important now that staff and students at Sussex automatically get 1TB of storage space on the University’s OneDrive account.
It wasn’t immediately obvious how to go about connecting (I had to google it in the end) but once logged in, the system worked pretty well. I noticed a few bugs here and there and the connections were a bit slower than on the PC, but this is still a preview version so I expect a lot of things will be sharpened up before release.
The other major changes are that the Mac office suite now includes OneNote and a new version of Outlook. Although it looks superficially quite similar to the version in Office 2011, the new Outlook has been substantially re-written. It now uses the same methods as its PC sibling to connect to Microsoft Exchange servers – MAPI/HTTP rather than the web services which formed the basis of the 2011 version. This will probably make it a lot faster but unfortunately I can’t check – it’s not yet compatible with the version of Exchange that we use at Sussex. Hopefully that’s another thing that will change by the time it’s released!