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Microsoft Releases Version of Office for Mac With Apple Silicon Compatibility (UPDATED)

Microsoft Releases Version of Office for Mac With Apple Silicon Compatibility (UPDATED)

Microsoft has announced the release of a new build of its Mac Office 2019 for Mac app suite. The new version provides support for macOS Big Sur and Apple’s new M1-powered Macs, which were unveiled earlier this week.

The release means the Microsoft Office for Mac suite of apps – including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneNote, and OneDrive – can be installed and run on Apple’s latest 13-inch MacBook Air, 13-inch MacBook Pro, and Mac mini using the macOS Big Sure Rosetta 2 translation layer.

Apple’s Rosetta 2 translation software allows M1-powered Macs to run x86-64 code written for Apple’s Intel-powered Macs. Unlike the original Rosetta, which allowed Intel Macs to run code written for PowerPC Macs, code is not interpreted in real-time. Rosetta 2 translation occurs entirely on the first launch of an app, although Apple says there is a slight performance hit as the initial translation of the Intel code takes place.

Microsoft’s announcement explains how it works:

Are there any performance considerations for running Office under Rosetta 2 translation?

The first launch of each Office app will take longer as the operating system has to generate optimized code for the ‌Apple Silicon‌ processor. Users will notice that the apps ‘bounce’ in the dock for approximately 20 seconds while this process completes. Subsequent app launches will be fast.

Microsoft advises users to install the November 2020 release (build 16.43), or later. This release of Office includes the latest optimizations for macOS Big Sur, which is the first operating system to support Apple Silicon.

Microsoft has already started the process of moving Mac apps to universal binaries. In the future, they will natively support both Apple Silicon and Intel chipsets within the same executable.

UPDATE: My original article incorrectly referred to the new build of Office for Mac as a “Universal build.” However, that version is apparently only currently available to users enrolled on Microsoft’s “Insider Fast” Beta channel. Sorry for the confusion, and thanks to MacRumors  for clarifying this.

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