Office for Mac support with the new macOS ‘High Sierra’

Microsoft has given some guidance about Office for Mac support on the upcoming MacOS ‘High Sierra’ 10.13.  But not without a little encouragement to buy the Office for Mac.

High Sierra will be publicly released in the (northern) autumn and some testers will have it already.  There will be a public beta release later in June 2017.

The new MacOS has one major change so Microsoft’s caution about Office compatibility is understandable.

Office 2016 for Mac

Microsoft says Office 2016 for Mac version 15.35 or later will install on MacOS 10.13.

That’s interesting because the current public release of Office/Mac is v15.34  (0.01 less) – even the latest Office isn’t officially ready for the upcoming Mac release.

Microsoft will only say that v15.35 will install. Beyond that there’s a broad level of caution

“Not all Office functionality may be available, and you may encounter stability problems where apps unexpectedly quit. “

That means you’ll have to update your current Office 2016 for Mac before switching to High Sierra.

If you try to use Office 2016 for Mac v15.34 or before, you may be stopped.

Source: Microsoft

Office 2011 for Mac.

Microsoft says it hasn’t tested Office 2011 for Mac on High Sierra and no support will be provided.

They point out that support for Office 2011 ends in a few months, on 10 October 2017.

On the other hand, it’s hard to believe that the Office for Mac team hasn’t devoted some effort to testing Office 2011 on the upcoming macOS.  Aside from the support deadline, Redmond has a vested interest in getting anyone with Office 2011 to hand over more money for Office 2016/Mac. Staying quiet on compatibility of Office 2011 serves Microsoft’s ends.

macOS ‘High Sierra’ a big deal

Usually macOS upgrades aren’t a major issue for Office compatibility but ‘High Sierra’ is different.

Apple is changing the entire disk/file system which is a major change that needs careful testing for programs like Office.  Gone is the 30-year-old HFS+ system in favor of APFS Apple File System.

APFS has many new features but the one of most relevance to Office users is encryption.  Unlike most file systems (including Microsoft’s NTFS), Apple File System has been designed with encryption in mind.  An entire drive can be encrypted, much like Windows Bitlocker.  There’s also a multi-key system with different keys for file and metadata.

Patience, Grasshopper

Because of this fundamental change to macOS, it’s prudent to wait for the public release of ‘High Sierra’ (and even then, maybe a few weeks more).

When you do upgrade macOS, do a full backup first and upgrade Office 2016 for Mac to the latest release before the macOS update

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