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Office for Mac now supports M1 chips directly

Microsoft Office 365 and 2019 for Mac (Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook) now work directly on the new M1 chip.  There are a few ‘gotchas’ but support for Apple Silicon is almost complete.

Apple is moving away from Intel chips to their own ‘Apple Silicon’ hardware, starting with the M1 chip.  As we’ve explained, Microsoft 365/2019 for Mac can run on M1 chips however the existing Office for Mac software ran more slowly.

Now Microsoft has updated Office for Mac so it runs faster on M1 Macs as well as the large base on Intel Mac’s.  Apple calls these ‘two in one’ releases ‘Universal’ software.

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Good News

It’s good news for M1 Macbook users, it means their Microsoft 365 or Office 2019 software should run faster … perhaps even noticeably faster than before. Office Universal apps should use less power (i.e better battery life) on M1 devices, compared to Intel based Macs.

Microsoft says the Universal apps “will run faster and take full advantage of the performance improvements on new Macs.”.

Single download

A single download/install works for both Intel based Macs and Apple M1 machines.  Users don’t have to choose anything because the same install or update process continues.

The Office installer figures out what type of Mac hardware (Intel or Apple Silicon) is available and sets up the matching software. It all should happen automatically.

How to get M1 enabled Office

Run Microsoft AutoUpdate from any Office app (Help | Check for Updates) .

Office for Mac version 16.44 or later is the Universal software package.

If you want to check, go to any Office app in the Applications folder.  Right-click and choose ‘Get Info’. Under ‘Kind’ look for the magic word ‘Universal’.

The version number is also listed.

Big issue – Teams is missing

What’s missing from this update is Microsoft Teams. The current Teams app hasn’t been updated to Universal.

For the moment, Teams users on M1 Macs will need Rosetta 2 to run the app.  Presumably, a Teams Universal app is on the way.

Little issues

Microsoft itself notes there many be cases where you’re asked by the macOS how to handle a software component.  If in doubt, choose the Rosetta 2 option.

According to Microsoft, a macOS prompt may appear with:

  • Excel’s Get and Transform functionality (aka Power Query)
  • A third-party plug-in that has not been updated to include native support for Apple Silicon

The mention of Get & Transform/PowerQuery is interesting because the current data link support in Excel for Mac is very poor compared to Excel for Windows.  Perhaps we’ll be seeing some major improvements in Get & Transform in Excel for Mac.

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