Installing Microsoft Office 2016 for Mac wasn’t as simple as I thought it would be. First, it required me to update my computer from Yosemite to El Captain OSX version 10.0.1. When that was complete, I was instructed to creat a Microsoft account. Once inside my newly created account things ran rather smoothly. The platform is intuitive and guides you through the installation process seamlessly. It took about 45 minutes to download the 1.2 GB installer file over a strong Wi-Fi connection. Microsoft does note that download time can be improved by using a wired connection. I’m not certain if that would’ve helped in my case because I attempted to download the installer file five times until realizing what the problem was. The first time, after waiting a considerable amount of time, the download just failed. The second time, the file appeared to download successfully but only after trying repeatedly to open it did I realize that 0 bytes were downloaded. The subsequent times failed too as I worked through the normal troubleshooting steps. I restarted the computer, changed Wi-Fi signals (I have two in my home) and even sat closer to the wifi source. None of that worked. The file still failed to download so I turned my attention to the browser. I was trying to download the file using Firefox so I closed it and tried using Safari. That worked. Apparently, you must use Safari to download the installer for Microsoft Office 2016 for Mac. It would have been nice to see this as an alert on the download page as it could have saved me a lot of time.
Office 365 Subscription – is it worth it?
Microsoft Office for Mac 2011 was already installed on my computer. I read that downloading Microsoft Office 2016 with an Office 365 subscription would remove any prior versions of the software. That makes sense but it also throws you into a cycle of annual renewals whether you like it or not. As noted on the Microsoft website, if you fail to renew the Office 365 subscription, your documents will become read-only. The ability to update your documents will be suspended. Because of that, I am not a fan of the “software as a service” model. I prefer to make a one-time purchase and upgrade on my own terms. Office 2016 for Mac is now available with an Office 365 subscription and the option to make a one-time purchase is still available.
In a nutshell, Office 365 gives you access to the latest versions of Office applications, allows you to work across devices – from PC/Mac to iOS, Android or Windows – and enables teams to work collaboratively. I’m the type of person who has more than one (more like 25) software updates waiting at any given time so I can appreciate that Office 365 keeps the most current version of an application available without the hassle out of manual updates. Of the three key features, the ability to work across devices is most notable for me. I work solo and I’m a heavy mobile user. In fact, I only use my computer for tasks that I cannot comfortably complete on my mobile device and always start work on my smartphone. For example, I started this post using the Notes app on my iPhone 6 plus with the intent to email it to myself and then add it to the administrative panel on the blog. I’m much more likely to use Microsoft Office applications on my mobile.
Microsoft Office – likes, dislikes and overall impressions
As I prepared for this review, I realized how infrequently I use Microsoft Office. As a blogger and magazine columnist I mostly rely on online platforms and mobile apps to support my workflow. Microsoft Office had become somewhat of a relic installed on my MacBook to simply enable me to open documents. So, my approach to this review did not involve spending a lot of time comparing the UI aesthetics of this release to the former or evaluating features gained verses the ones we lost. Instead, I evaluated the software with one question in mind – would I actually use it? Could programs in the Microsoft Office 2016 bundle support my work and become daily staples in my routine? Let’s find out…
Microsoft Office 2016 for Mac includes Word, PowerPoint, Excel, OneNote, and Outlook. All of the programs have received useful upgrades and render a better user experience than before. For example, Word has a more comprehensive online database of templates. Once upon a time there were only a few resume and cover letter formats to choose from. Now, you can choose from more styles and formats, cover letters, thank you notes, employment applications and a range of other related document types. Expanded templates are a definite plus for people with moderate to no publishing skills. PowerPoint is easier to navigate as well. I opened the desktop version of the program and immediately began the process to create and save a template. An original, branded PowerPoint template is the basis for my media kit, so creating one is top priority. I chose a template to start with and within minutes I changed the background color from white to black, modified the design color scheme from green to pink added my logo to the cover page and created secondary pages with my #TamTalksTech hashtag at the bottom. From the File menu I selected “Save as template”, gave it a name and was done. The color schemes were easier to choose from because the preview showed the design in new colors as opposed to only showing color swatches. The upgraded Microsoft Office products work well for the few tasks I perform on my laptop. Now, on to the major aspects of this review for me…the apps.
There’s an Office 365 Administration app available in the Apple App Store. It’s a web app – basically a shortcut to a mobile version of the Office 365 website – which provides access to your account, Microsoft apps and the ability to submit feedback. I was excited to discover this app and had imagined it would be the “command center” for the Microsoft mobile apps that I use on my phone. It’s not. When you select the button for Microsoft apps, you are redirected to a page in the App Store that lists all available Microsoft apps for iPhone. I was hoping that once the apps were downloaded onto my phone that going forward, the admin app would allow me to access all Microsoft apps via a single sign on. Nope. Not so lucky. Perhaps we’ll see better integration across apps in another iteration.
Currently I have the PowerPoint and OneNote apps on my iPhone and I love them! I am a jotter – a note taker – because my head is always full of ideas. There are things I want to pitch to my editor, possible promotional campaigns that I want to pitch to brands but finding the time to sit down and make them presentable often alludes me. The fact that I can create a PowerPoint presentation on-the-go in small sittings over time and have it accessible on my MacBook enables me to get those great ideas out of my head and into a form where they are usable. That’s priceless. While the app doesn’t have all of the functions of the desktop version, it gives you a solid range of options to create a good presentation. I didn’t feel limited using the mobile version at all.
Now let’s talk about OneNote. Remember the question I’m answering with this review; Could programs in the Microsoft Office 2016 bundle support my work and become daily staples in my routine? The answer is, yes, and OneNote is the ticket. As I mentioned, I started writing this review using the Notes App but once I downloaded OneNote and took a look around, I copied the text over to it and I haven’t looked back. I like that OneNote offers different methods of note taking. It accommodates free form and the organization of notes into notebooks. My favorite feature has to be with how lists are handled. You can actually check items off and mark them as complete. It makes the notes far more useful when you can change the status of an item as you work your list. Because of that I quickly added the kids Christmas list to OneNote to keep me aware of what I’ve already purchased. No over spending here – too bad for them. I also complete my #TamTalksTech column for Entrepreneur Magazine using the Notes app. When I’m done, I email the note to myself and then copy and paste the text into the body of an email to send to my editor. With OneNote, email is eliminated because the program is updated and accessible across all of my devices. The app makes my process more efficient and who doesn’t like efficiency? I also realized just how much I like this app when my behavior changed. I attended a business breakfast with executives from a notable technology company. The conversation was casual but one of the VPs dropped jewels of information that I didn’t want to forget so I grabbed my phone and instinctively opened OneNote. I’ve definitely made a change.
Note: A complementary 1-year subscription to Office 2016 for Mac with Office 365 was provided for the purposes of this review.