Featuring a "fresh look" and database improvements for better performance, Microsoft's latest update to Outlook for Mac is designed to offer a "more familiar and consistent experience" comparable to Outlook for the PC, Web and mobile devices, according to the Redmond, Washington-based firm. Microsoft announced the availability of the new Outlook for Mac on Friday.
Mac users eager for an updated version of Office, however, will have to wait a while longer. Microsoft said it would release a public beta version of its next Office for Mac in the first half of 2015, with the final release scheduled for the second half of next year.
Microsoft's last complete update of Office for Mac came in 2011. While the company had in the past released a new Mac version every six to eight months, it has spent the last few years instead focusing on mobile and cloud apps.
Office Delayed by Mobile, Cloud Focus
"Following the release of Office 365 we made the conscious decision to prioritize mobile first and cloud first scenarios for an increasing number of people who are getting things done on-the-go more frequently," noted an Office 365 Team blog post published today. "This meant delivering and continuing to improve Office on a variety [of] phones (iPhone, Windows Phone, and Android) and tablets (iPad and Windows) -- brought together by the cloud (OneDrive)."
The next update to Office for Mac will include Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote. It will be made available to Office 365 commercial and consumer subscribers for no additional cost, Microsoft said. A perpetual license of Office for Mac will be released in the same time frame, it added.
Real-Time Delivery, Faster Downloading
The new Outlook for Mac released Friday includes a number of new features, Microsoft said. Among these are a new user interface with improved scrolling, online support for searching Exchange-archived mail, and Master Category List support and enhancements.
Microsoft said the updated version of Outlook for Mac will deliver better performance and reliability as it was developed using a new threading model and database improvements. It will also provide Office 365 push e-mail support for real-time e-mail delivery, and deliver faster first runs and downloading through better syncing with Exchange Web Services.
As of early Friday afternoon, more than 80 people had posted comments in response to the Microsoft blog post about the Outlook and Office updates. Several of them welcomed the news, while a number of others reported having trouble installing or activating the update. Microsoft engineers were quickly responding to many of the comments with suggested fixes or more information.
The new Outlook for Mac is available to commercial, personal and university Office 365 subscribers.