After a five-year gap, Microsoft has unveiled the first public beta of its forthcoming Office 2016 for Mac with the release of Microsoft Office for Mac 2016 Preview. The new release is free for all Yosemite users during the remainder of the product’s pre-release phase, with the final version slated for release later this year.
Office for Mac 2016 Preview ships with five components: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and OneNote. It boasts a refreshed and optimized codebase, Retina-friendly visuals and support for full-screen mode.
Microsoft is all about software previews these days. We've seen various preview builds of Windows 10 and Windows 10 for Phones, and now it's time for the next version of Office for Mac. Today Microsoft released Office 2016 Mac Preview, giving Mac users a chance to try out the next version of the office suite ahead of its full launch.
As with the Windows version of Office, and in keeping with the new focus of Microsoft, there's a strong emphasis on the cloud. OneDrive, OneDrive for Business and SharePoint can be used to sync documents between devices, and Microsoft is keen to point out that this is more than just a straight port of PC Office -- the suite has been Mac-ified.
Microsoft has been a tireless proponent of education -- the company has many schools on its operating system and Office suite, sometimes at very big discounts. But the best discount of all is always "free", which is exactly what some students will pay for Office. The software giant has even instituted a way for students to check their eligibility.
This comes on the heels of New York City announcing that its students and teachers will be running Microsoft's Office programs. The city isn't alone either, as many other educational bastions move to the platform.
Microsoft's mobile-first, cloud-first strategy continues. In something of a surprise announcement the company reveals that it is launching a new cloud storage partner program meaning that any cloud storage provider will be able to integrate with Office for iOS and Office Online.
The news follows on from Microsoft's partnership with Dropbox in November and while it is just iOS users who will benefit from the new mobile options for now, Office for Android and Office for Windows 10 will also get the same treatment in due course. It's a recognition of the fact that integration with OneDrive is not enough so it shouldn't be long before we see iCloud and Google Drive working with Office.
Microsoft has released its earnings report for Q2 FY2015 (that's Q4 CY2014 for everyone else), revealing figures that closely match analyst expectations. The software giant achieved $26.5 billion in revenue, with operating income coming in at $7.8 billion. Gross margin and diluted earnings per share were $16.3 billion and $0.71, respectively. However, in after-hours trading, Microsoft's shares dropped by $2, or 4.28 percent, to $45 per share.
Microsoft has delivered some good news through its earnings report concerning its Devices and Consumer part of the business. Surface revenue reached $1.1 billion at the end of the quarter, which translates to a healthy increase of 24 percent over Q2 FY2014. Lumia sales topped 10.5 million, which, again, is better than the same quarter from a year prior as well as the previous quarter, Q1 FY2015. And the list goes on.
Windows 10-powered Surface Hub brings interactive whiteboards kicking and screaming into the 21st century
Surface got off to something of a stuttering start, but Microsoft's sort-of-tablet/sort-of-laptop has gained quite a following as it hit the third generation. With the launch of Windows 10 on the cards, the company is now thinking about not just software, but also new hardware formats. We've seen HoloLens, but the device that could transform both work and education is the Surface Hub.
Announced as an 84-inch Surface, it would be easy to dismiss this as a headline-grabbing gimmick, but it's more than that. Much more than that. It's a tool for the office, a tool for enterprise, and a tool for schools and colleges. This is Microsoft showing how Windows 10 can be used for collaborative work, bringing the interactive whiteboard kicking and screaming into the 21st century.
It has been a few weeks since Microsoft introduced us to the latest addition to the Office family -- Sway. In fact, as Microsoft points out, the preview was unveiled 10 weeks ago. While the initial preview required anyone interested to join a waiting list, now it's possible to get in on the action straight away; and it seems there has already been great interest in the product.
Microsoft says that there have been 175,000 requests to access the Sway Preview, and the Sway.com website has received over one million visitors. Now anyone with a Microsoft account is able to try out the data collection and presentation tool and check out a batch of new features.
Microsoft's current vision is mobile first, cloud first (if two things can be simultaneously first), and this is perfectly demonstrated by what is being done with Office. Office has been pushed to not only mobile devices, but also the cloud and now Word Online gains the power of Bing in the form of Insights for Office.
The new feature makes it possible to perform searches from within Word Online so you can conduct research with fewer clicks. It could be as simple as looking up a definition, or you might be inspired to look up images related to the document you are working on.
After last month's blizzard of patches tomorrow's last round of Windows updates for the year looks set to be rather quieter.
Only seven bulletins have been announced, of which three are rated Critical and four Important. Of the Critical patches one is for Internet Explorer, one for Office and one for Windows itself -- likely to be for a remote code execution vulnerability.
If you have ever created or sat through a PowerPoint presentation for work, or created a report for school lately, you've surely seen or used clip art. There is nothing inherently wrong with using images to enhance a presentation or document, but the clip art in Office has been downright terrible. The images are typically outdated and cliched examples of business life, drawn by artists who likely came straight from hell (I kid -- actually, I bet they are very nice people).
Today, we may have finally seen the last of these horrid Pablo Picasso-esque nightmares, as Microsoft kills the Office clip art and image library. This is surely a time for celebration, but you are probably wondering where you will get images for your next quarterly presentation. No worries, Microsoft will now be directing users of Office to Bing Image Search instead.
After a long wait, Microsoft announced today that the next version of Office for Mac will finally see the light of day in 2015. Mac users will be able to get their hands on a public beta in the first half of next year, with the final version to arrive before the end of 2015. The latest official version of Office for Mac, Office for Mac 2011, launched more than four years ago.
Microsoft does not reveal what the upcoming Office for Mac will be called, but, seeing as it launches in 2015, it is possible that the software giant will stick to the current naming scheme and call it Office for Mac 2015. What we do know is that it will include Excel, OneNote, PowerPoint and Word, which will make it less feature-rich than Office 2013, which has been available on Windows for nearly two years.
Having unveiled Windows 10 yesterday, Microsoft today welcomed a new addition to the fold in the form of Sway. This is the latest member of the Office family and it's being billed as a way to "reimagine how your ideas come to life". What does this actually mean? In many ways, Sway is an extension of OneNote. It's a web-based way to collect content, store images and text, add videos, and generally piece together everything you might need for a presentation, project, or idea. Sway is currently a preview product and, in keeping with Microsoft's "mobile-first, cloud-first world" there's a strong focus on cross-platform compatibility and cross-device syncing.
Sway is an interesting blend of existing Microsoft products, but it also brings in some new ideas. It's integrated with OneDrive, and has the note-taking features of OneNote. The various templates that can be used to present the data that is collected gives it something of a feel of PowerPoint, but it could also be used for very simple planning and project management like a cut-down, accessible version of Microsoft Project. It's all web-based and Microsoft is touting it as a "new way for you to create a beautiful, interactive, web-based expression of your ideas".
There are many office suites available nowadays such as Google Docs and LibreOffice, but as fine as they are, none compare to the venerable Microsoft Office. When you send your son or daughter to school, you are hoping that they become equipped to handle the "real world" when they eventually graduate. Microsoft Office is what the business world largely uses.
Sure, you may be able to get by with an alternative to Office, but why would you want to? Oh right, cost; LibreOffice and Google Docs are free, while Microsoft Office costs money. Today, Microsoft announces that money is no longer an issue in this regard, as some students and teachers can now easily score a copy of Office for free.
Microsoft continues its recent trend of bringing exciting new features to rival platforms by adding Android Wear support to OneNote. The most recent version of Microsoft's note-taking tool -- suitably named OneNote for Android Wear -- and a new iOS 8-friendly version of the app is also due to launch today. If you've invested in an Android smartwatch (you'll have to wait a little longer for an Apple Watch version), taking a note is as simple as uttering "OK Google, take a note" -- but be prepared for a few weird looks when you try this out in a store for the first time.
To take advantage of the voice-activated features of the app, you will also need to have the main OneNote app installed on your Android phone or tablet. Forget the fact that your smartwatch doesn't have a keyboard -- notes can now be dictated to your wrist in a way that will not in any way make people who may be nearby think you're a little, er, strange. Or, as the Office Blog puts it, "we hope you enjoy using OneNote in a manner even Dick Tracy would envy!"