Microsoft Office – a name that is ubiquitous with Office suite (which typically includes a word processor, presentation software and tabular data manipulation software). While a Microsoft product will always be given more focus on Windows, the Mac has always received an update alongside the usual Windows refresh. However such was not the case for Office 2013. But it seems like Microsoft is back in the Mac fold with Office 2016.
Microsoft Office 2016 for Mac
Let’s begin with what is new in this version. Apart from the usual UI enhancements, Microsoft has finally started to take into account that most MacBook pros are equipped with Retina display and hence they have tweaked the software accordingly. Also following the direction in which Yosemite has taken OS X, Office now includes translucent looks with similar styled icons as the system ones. Apart from the cosmetic changes, OneDrive now features big with the Office suite. All contents created can be synced with the OneDrive accounts instantly along with support for OneNote. These enhancements put it directly in competition with iWorks – Apple’s own Office suite offering which comes free with OS X.
Microsoft vs. Apple
While Apple maintains its exclusivity with most services for its own platforms, it seems like Microsoft wants users on all platforms to use their services (and maybe sway them over to their ecosystem). Thus, Office suite along with Office mobile suite covers all Apple’s platforms – iPhone, iPad and Macs. This puts it directly in competition with iWorks suite from Apple (which naturally integrates with iCloud). Whether Office will have enough oomph to pull users to their ecosystem remains to be seen however. But iWorks comes free with every Mac installation whereas Office won’t be. But Office 365 with monthly subscription and 1TB online cloud storage is a great way to lure customers.
What it means overall?
Microsoft seems to be transitioning from a Windows and Office company to a services and devices company. While on the enterprise side, it is already pushing Azure services (which also let you run Linux stacks), on the consumer side it is giving away free Office suite on all platforms i.e. Android, iOS, Mac and Windows. Thus it has realized that the competition from iWorks by Apple and Google Docs by Google has stepped up and is trying to lure lots of casual users away from Office. This means that there is probably a chance that Office suite might actually even be free (or tied to an Office 365 subscription) instead of the usual paid offering.
With the rise of mobile devices and myriad form factors, the consumer electronics space is facing stiff competition. Microsoft this time surely won’t like to sit back and then try to recover but it being proactive. Making its Office suite available across competitor’s platforms may turn out to be a home run in the long run. However the pricing and the improvements will determine whether it meets the same success as on Windows platforms and people switch over to it from iWorks on Mac.