Microsoft releases a version of Office for Apple Silicon

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Windows 10 users upset that the first Arm version of Microsoft’s Office suite is for Mac users.

Apple announced earlier this month the availability of new Mac devices based on a custom architecture known as Apple Silicon. Microsoft has now announced its support of Microsoft 365 and Office 2019 on Apple Silicon devices.

The latest release of the popular Microsoft apps including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneNote, and OneDrive are meant for devices using the Apple Silicon architecture.

For the best experience, Microsoft recommends 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.

What is Apple Silicon?

Apple Silicon processors can run apps compiled for the Intel chipset through a software technology known as Rosetta 2.

This translation layer is automatically enabled in macOS Big Sur. It provides users with access to all features in Microsoft’s apps including support for third-party add-ins. End-users and business customers can use existing methods to install and deploy Office.

Related: Apple reveals first MacBooks and Mac mini with ARM chipset

Microsoft have already started the process of moving Mac apps to universal binaries. They demonstrated this at Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) in June 2020. Thus, future Microsoft products will natively support both Apple Silicon and Intel chipsets within the same universal executable.

What about Windows 10 users?

Microsoft have not yet released a fully native version of Office for Windows 10 on ARM. However, Microsoft 365 will deposit a release optimized to run on a Windows 10 PC on an ARM-based processor.

Users who wish to run the perpetual licensed version of Office 2019 will have to use Intel emulation. That emulation currently runs 32-bit only. Microsoft will make 64-bit support available in the future, but they have not given a date.

Today’s hybrid approach for Office 365 means that some system components run natively while others maintain backward compatibility. Windows users, at least for now, will not be able to realize the performance gains of a fully native Arm version of Office.