Microsoft Office 365 MIA on Mac

While Microsoft has moved to Office 365 and Office for iPad, Mac users are still stuck with Office 2011.

ms-office-2011-edit-small.jpg
Back in the good old days, Outlook used to look like this. Actually, it still does on the Mac. Screen shot: Brooke Crothers/CNET

The new Microsoft is still saddling the Mac with old software.

For those who don't know, Office 2011 is the latest and greatest Microsoft Office suite for the Mac. Problem is, it debuted way back in October 2010.

"Office for Mac 2011 launched in October 2010. Office 2013 for Windows launched in January 2013. A long time has passed, not just since Office for Mac 2011 launch, but also since Office 2013 for Windows was launched," writes MacWorld and others.

Remember October 2010? That's when the first-generation iPad was in stores.

Fast forward four years and Microsoft now offers Office for iPad. Problem is, if you're an individual and pay for the full version -- which gets you an Office 365 subscription -- then install Office on a Mac (you can install Office 365 on up to 5 devices), you actually don't get Office 2013 or Office 365, you get the 4-year-old Office 2011.

And what's Microsoft's stopgap to allow some semblance of a cloud-connected Office 2011 on the Mac for individual users? An app called Document Connection. A far cry (described here as an "amazingly bad hack") from Office 365.

Needless to say, there are plenty of rumors about an imminent update of Office for OS X. But those rumors have now been around for years (the latest claims the second half of this year).

The larger point is that OS X -- while maybe not as important as iOS and the iPad -- is still pretty important. So, Microsoft risks making Office even more irrelevant than it already is for the Mac crowd.

I'll give the new Microsoft under CEO Satya Nadella the benefit of the doubt and presume that a cloud-centric Office is coming later this year. But I can't help but wonder if it's too late.

Updated at 2:00 A.M. PDT on June 30: Adds browser-based Office 356 clarification. Office 365 can be accessed through the browser on a Mac, as a reader points out. Nevertheless, it's confusing when Microsoft prompts users to install Office 2011 as part of a 365 installation on the Mac. Office 2011 predates Office 365 and offers little in the way of cloud-like features.

About the author

Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.

 

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