Microsoft Standardizes Office Code Across Windows, Mac and Android

The most recent round of improvements to Microsoft's Office productivity suite included the news that the Office codebase is now unified across Windows, Mac, iOS and Android.

Among the various improvements, Microsoft is bringing support for features such as co-authoring and AutoSave for users of Office for Mac version 16.9.0, although those features only work when files are saved to OneDrive or SharePoint sites. Some of the new features require having Office 365 subscriptions, such as the new AutoSave feature.

"With our newest version of Office for Mac, version 16.9.0, we've extended these capabilities to Apple users; in fact, this release marks the first time in 20 years that Office shares the same codebase across Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android for core functionalities," explained Derek Snook, a principal program manager for Office for Mac, iPhone and iPad.

The new unified codebase means that Microsoft can roll out Office features across operating system platforms at a faster rate, Snook explained, although Microsoft still has to design the features according to each particular platform's user interface.

Office for Mac 2016 Features
On the Mac platform, new Office for Mac 2016 features are available, but the following features require having an Office 365 subscription:

  • AutoSave, which saves files "every few seconds."
  • New Excel Worksheet functions, including IFS formula for nesting "If" statements in formulas, and SWITCH formula, "which evaluates an expression to return the first matching value in a list."
  • New PowerPoint Trim tool for editing the length of embedded video or audio (only works with locally stored audio or video files -- it doesn't work with with media "from the web").
  • PowerPoint QuickStarter, which builds a presentation outline based on the subject and user research.
  • PowerPoint "highlighted changes," which shows the changes made by co-authors when the user has been away.

Other Office for Mac features being added don't require an Office 365 subscription. They include:

  • Co-authoring for Excel, PowerPoint and Word (although it only works for files stored on OneDrive or SharePoint).
  • Table slicers, which lets users grab the data they want.
  • Excel multithreaded calculations, where Excel tries to speed up calculation performances by using different threads.
  • PowerPoint laser pointer, which turns the mouse cursor into a pointer.
  • Excel getting more chart types.
  • Word for Mac now has Immersive Reader capabilities, including a Read Aloud function.

iOS Office Additions
Microsoft also described some coming Office improvements for users of Apple iOS devices, such as iPads and iPhones, in another announcement

It's now possible to drag and drop files (such as documents, spreadsheets and presentations) from Office apps or from OneDrive storage on iOS devices. Users can also "move files to and from OneDrive and other sources -- such as SharePoint or iMessage," Microsoft's announcement explained.

OneDrive for iOS now supports the iOS 11 Files app. "This means iPhone and iPad users can upload, access, edit, and save content to OneDrive or SharePoint from any iOS app that supports File app integration -- a top requested feature," the announcement explained.

In addition, the OneDrive for iOS app supports previews for more file types. It now supports "over 130 file types, including Adobe Photoshop and 3D objects," Microsoft indicated. 

Lastly, Outlook for iOS now has improved search across organizations. The search is based on the Microsoft Graph technology that underlies Office 365 products, working to surface organizational info.

About the Author

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

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