Welcome to our Microsoft Office for Mac 2016 release date, price, system requirements and preview article. Here we are bringing you everything you need to know about the new version of Office for Mac so you can know exactly when the new Office 2016 for Mac is coming out as well as how much Office 2016 for Mac will cost.

Micosoft has released beta previews of the new Office for Mac apps so we are also able to bring you information about the features you can expect to see in the new Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook in Office for Mac 2016. You can also see how the new Office for Mac will look - we've included Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook for Mac screen shots in this article. We also have all the information you need to know about how to download the new Office for Mac preview.

UPDATE: Microsoft launched Office 2016 for Mac on 9 July 2015. However, this is only for Office 365 subscribers. Read on for more details.

Microsoft had previously released a Preview of Office for Mac 2016 on 5 March, and this is still available. The new suite of Office apps is due to launch in the second half of this year. Included in the preview of Office for Mac 2016 are Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, and Outlook.

Read next: Read our preview articles that evaluate the preview versions of the main Office for Mac 2016 software products:

Excel for Mac 2016 preview

PowerPoint for Mac 2016 preview

Outlook for Mac 2016 preview

Word for Mac 2016 preview

Plus, find out what's in store for next year: Apple rumours and predictions for 2015

Microsoft Office for Mac 2016 release date: Office 2016 for Mac launches (for 360 subscribers only)

The new Office for Mac 2016 update to Microsoft's office software suite was launched on 9 July 2015.

Office for Mac 2016 will initially be available only for subscribers to Microsoft's Office 365 programme, and in every country where that program runs except Turkey. Microsoft representatives told us that Office for Mac 2016 will be launched as a standalone software product - as a boxed product or as a download - in September, approximately two months after the main launch.

The updated Office software products feature a number of new features, including a greater focus on co-authoring and other collaborative features, and stronger unity across multiple platforms. In theory an Office user from PC should be able to jump on a similarly equipped Mac and start working straight away, given how closely aligned the two interfaces have been designed.

Of course, we know most of the product details already, having tried out the previews extensively since March (more on the previews below and in the individual preview articles above), but the company pointed out that it has made numerous tweaks to the preview versions based on the thousands of pieces of feedback it has received from the trial programme: "Since the start of the preview in March, we released 7 updates and improved the performance and stability of the applications, and added features like improved Mail Merge in Word, Propose New Time in Outlook, and support for External Data Connections in Excel."

"The new versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and OneNote provide the best of both worlds for Mac users - the familiar Office experience paired with the best of Mac," said Kirk Koenigsbauer, corporate vice president for the Office Client Applications and Services team.

"If you already use Office on a PC or iPad, you will find yourself right at home in Office 2016 for Mac. It works the way you expect, with the familiar ribbon interface and powerful task panes. Mac users will appreciate the modernized Office experience and the integration of Mac capabilities like Full Screen view and Multi-Touch gestures. With full Retina display support, your Office documents look sharper and more vibrant than ever.

"Office for Mac is cloud-connected, so you can quickly get to the documents you've recently used on other devices and pick up where you left off. New, built-in document sharing tools make it easy to invite teammates to work on a document together. When sharing documents, you won't have to worry about losing content or formatting, as Office for Mac offers unparalleled compatibility with Office on PCs, tablets, phones and online."

The preview versions of Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and Word are still available for all to download and try, and will remain available for another month, expiring on 9 August. Here's how to download the Office 2016 for Mac previews.

Will my Mac run the Office for Mac 2016 preview?

You just need to be running Yosemite, which rules out any Macs that can’t run Yosemite.

The following Macs should therefore be able to run Yosemite:

  • iMac (Mid-2007 or newer)
  • MacBook (Late 2008 Aluminum, or Early 2009 or newer)
  • MacBook Pro (Mid/Late 2007 or newer)
  • MacBook Air (Late 2008 or newer)
  • Mac mini (Early 2009 or newer)
  • Mac Pro (Early 2008 or newer)
  • Xserve (Early 2009)

How can I get the Microsoft Office 2016 for Mac preview?

  • Visit Microsoft’s Office for Mac Preview site here
  • Click Download now
  • The download took about 20 minutes and weighed in at 2.66GB, however the installation will take up 5.62GB of space on your Mac
  • Once you have downloaded a build of Office for Mac 2016 find the OfficePreview.pkg in your Downloads folder and copy the build to your desktop
  • Click on the package and follow the installation prompts, agreeing to the software license agreement
  • You will need to close any Office applications you have open.
  • The install took just one minute.
  • Close the installer window once the install is complete

You will find the relevant applications in the Applications folder – they won’t be inside a Office folder like the Microsoft Office 2011 apps, they will be lose in the Applications folder.

The company says that the preview will be updated regularly and that users will be notified to updates via the Mac Auto-Update tool, so look out for updates.

Remember this is a Preview, which is, in other words, ‘Beta’. Microsoft says: “Some features aren't final or may not work. We recommend that you always download and run the latest update so that you are using the most up to date features.”

Read: Expert Office for iPad and iPhone tips

And: How to manage Macs on a Windows network

When will Microsoft Office 2016 launch

We've been hoping for a new version of Office for Mac for a long time now (it's been more than four years since the last launch).

Rumours that Microsoft was planning a new version of its Office software for Mac users have been ongoing for the past two years. Microsoft updated the Windows version back at the beginning of 2013, so Mac users have been wondering when Microsoft would update the Mac version ever since.

We now know that it will arrive in the second half of the year, but Microsoft hasn’t offered any more information than that.

We think that it may arrive around the time that Apple holds its WWDC event, with, perhaps, a Microsoft spokesperson appearing on stage to talk about commitment to the Mac and iOS.

Apple has recently launched iOS versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook, read about the versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook for iPad and Phone here.

How much will Microsoft Office 2016 cost

The preview is free but when the suite ships later this year it will require an Office 365 subscription or the purchase of a standalone copy.

If you don’t want to pay up you will still be able to use the Preview copy, but it will be fully functioning only for a month, after that you will only be able to read or print the Office documents.

The price of a non-subscription of Office for Mac is still to be confirmed. Current prices are as follows, and we expect UK pricing is likely to be similar to what it is now.

Back in February 2014 Microsoft raised prices of Office for the Mac as much as 22% and stopped selling multi-license packages of the application suite. On the UK Microsoft Store Office for Mac Home and Business 2011 (including Word, PowerPoint, Excel and Outlook) now retails for £219.99 while Office for Mac Home and Student 2011 (including Word, PowerPoint and Excel) now retails for £109.99.

Previously you could pick up one Home and Business activation of the Business Edition for £189, or £239.99 for two activations. This latest price change was an 16.40% increase.

Home and Student was available for just £89.99, or £109.99 for three activations. The new price is a 22.23% increase.

Both versions are now only available for one Mac. This means that a three-license package of Home & Student now costs £329.97, a 200% increase on the previous price.

A two-license bundle of Home & Business will now set you back £439.98, an 88.33% increase on the previous bundle price.

The new prices are identical to those of Office 2013 for Windows, as are the percentage increases

When the software does launch users with Office 365 subscriptions will get the new apps immediately.

How much does an Office 365 subscription cost

For business users, an Office 365 subscription is available in a number of different packages. Small Business can sign up for £3.30 a month (£39.60 a year) but they won't gain the desktop versions of the apps. The Small Business Premium package costs £8.40 a month (£100.80 a year, 25 users, including desktop versions). Midsize Business can sign up for 9.80 a month (300 users, including desktop versions and Active Directory). There are also enterprise offerings for £2.60, £5.20 and £15 a month.

Home users can sign up for Office 365 Home Premium subscription at £7.99 per month or £79.99 a year and get access to the features, including being able to create and edit documents, as well as desktop versions of the Office apps.

Students and teachers can now get Office 365 for free (if their school subscribes to the service). In the US those in education have been able to get Office 365 for free since 2013, but Microsoft has now extended this beyond the States. You can find out if you are eligible by adding your school email address here.

Students and teachers get access to the Office suite of products, as well as 1TB of OneDrive storage and access to Office Online via a browser. Only students and teachers at schools that already subscribe to Office 365 qualify.

How long will the Office 2016 for Mac Preview be available

Microsoft says that each build of the preview will expire after 60 days, and that new builds will come regularly. The last build will stop working a month after the software launches.

How can I uninstall the Office 2016 for Mac preview?

If you try the new Office for Mac 2016 and decided that it's not for you, you can remove it from your Mac. Follow these instructions:

  • Open a Finder window
  • Select the Applications folder
  • Navigate to the Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, or OneNote app that you want to delete
  • Drag the relevant app to your trash
  • Empty the trash by right clicking (ctrl-click) on the trash icon

Can I use the Microsoft Office 2016 for Mac preview alongside Office for Mac 2011

Do not fear, the new apps will not overwrite your old apps.

Microsoft says that you can use the preview builds at the same time as the 2011 edition. We have been doing so and haven’t encountered any issues, yet…

Beware that with multiple versions of the Office apps on your Mac, you may inadvertently trigger the wrong Office app to open when you intend a different one.

Why did Microsoft release a preview of Office for Mac 2016

Microsoft is using the preview to gathering data about improvements that can be made to the final version. For example there is a new ‘Help improve Office’ button in the Preview that you can use to sent feedback.

To report a bug or comment on a feature just select the smiley face in the upper right corner of the application.

A Microsoft rep told our collegues at Macworld.com that the aim of this feature is to help eliminate a public perception that such feedback is ignored, by proactively responding to reported issues.

Apparently this feature won’t be available when the suite launches, though.

Read: Why you should send feedback to Apple

Microsoft Office 2016 interface

Every application gets a Yosemite look and feel and apps are optimized to work with the Retina display. Office will also offer the Yosemite full-screen mode. There is even scroll bounce.

The only Yosemite features you won’t gat are auto-save or renaming, moving, tagging, or locking documents using the document title bar.

You will be able to use OneNote to autosave and synchronization documents, however.

Microsoft says that the new apps are designed to give users a similar experience on all devices, so if you are using the Office apps on Windows, Mac, iOS or the web (or Android) you will use them in the same way.

So that this unified interface is possible, Microsoft has updated the Ribbon – its toolbar that runs across the each document so that it is similar to the Office for Windows 2013 version. Microsoft says that the redesigned ribbon “intuitively organizes features so you can quickly find what you need quickly”.

If you are working on a smaller screen you are now able to hide the Ribbon, which increases the screen space available for editing your document or spreadsheet.

There is also a refreshed task pane interface, which Microsoft claims: “Makes positioning, resizing, or rotating graphics easy so you can create exactly the layout you want.”

New themes and styles also come to the suite of Office apps.

Word 2016 preview

Microsoft describes the new Word as having state of the art editing, reviewing, and sharing tools. The company also notes that the new design tab provides quick access to features such as layout, colours and fonts, and the new Format Object task pane gives you complete control over pictures, shapes, and effects.

There are also new collaboration features in Word and PowerPoint. Several people can work on the same document at the same time, thanks to the new Co-authoring feature. We don’t know what the limit is of authors, but it appears that at least 10 people can be involved in editing a document at the same time. When you are editing a document you can see the names of the other people who are in the document at the same time, and view their changes as they make them.

To keep the document in sync Microsoft is using a technology called cobalt syncing. Cobalt studies the changes that are being made and it two people change the same thing at the same time, it will alert users to the conflict.

Another collaboration themed addition is Threaded Comments, which is a little like website comments, letting users add comments that can be viewed by the editors of a document.

There is also a new document navigation pane that makes it easier to navigate through a document. Plus a new Style pane so it’s simple to change the styles being used in the document.

Excel 2016 preview

Excel will now support the majority of the Windows version’s keyboard shortcuts in addition to Mac keyboard commands. That basically means that ctrl-c will copy and ctrl-v will paste, as well a cmd-v and cmd-c.

Excel will also offer more advanced analysis tools – the new Analysis ToolPak – which will offer advanced statistical functions, including moving averages and exponential smoothing slicers for pivot tables, as well as auto-complete features for inserting functions and filling in cell data.

PowerPoint 2016 preview

PowerPoint also gets the collaboration and Threaded Comments features. In addition it gains a redesigned Presenter View that allows users to easily switch a presentation from one display to another. Microsoft says this Presenter View will become the “mission control for your presentation - displaying the current slide, the next slide, notes and a timer on your Mac, while projecting only the presentation to your audience on the big screen”.

It also offers a customizable presenter window where users can view notes, the next slide, and where they are in the current sequence of slides.

There are also new slide transitions and an improved animation task pane that Microsoft says will help you build your presentation faster.

OneNote 2016 preview

OneNote is Microsoft’s ‘digital notebook’ and it is available for free on the App Store. It appears that there is little new in the preview version, although OneNote can now provide optical character recognition (OCR) for documents added to the cloud.

Outlook 2016 preview

The new version of Outlook for Mac has been available since last autumn, but only to those with an Office 365 subscription.

When that app launched Microsoft said it offered: “Better performance and reliability as a result of a new threading model and database improvements; a new modern user interface with improved scrolling and agility when switching between Ribbon tabs; online archive support for searching Exchange (online or on-premises) archived mail; Master Category List support and enhancements delivering access to category lists (name and colour) and sync between Mac, Windows and OWA clients; Office 365 push email support for real-time email delivery; and faster first-run and email download experience with improved Exchange Web Services syncing.”

Now it gains an improved conversation view that organizes the inbox around threaded conversations, and a new message preview that gives you the first sentence of an email just below the subject line.

Other new features include a side-by-side calendar view that lets you look at two different calendars together. You can even drop one calendar on top of the other so you can see if there are overlapping events. You can also view weather in the calendar.

There is also support for an Online Archive,

There do appear to be some issues with Gmail or iCloud accounts to this version of Outlook.

Office 2016 code changes

Microsoft has made some changes on the development side. The new apps are fully sandboxed and are written in Cocoa rather than Carbon.

How long does Microsoft usually take to update Office for Mac?

As you can see from the list below, as a rule new versions happen about every three years, and usually the Mac version of Office comes out some time after the PC version. The extra time - often as much as a year - gives Microsoft's Mac development team time to produce a Mac version of the software suite, rather than just port the Windows version.

  •                         1995 – Office 95 for Windows
  •                         1997 – Office 97 for Windows
  •                         1998 - Office 98 for Mac
  •                         2000 – Office 2000 for Windows
  •                         Late 2000 - Office 2001 for Mac
  •                         2001 - Office X - the first Mac OS X edition
  •                         2002 – Office XP for Windows
  •                         2003 – Office 2003 for Windows
  •                         2004 - Office 2004 for Mac
  •                         2007 – Office 2007 for Windows
  •                         2008 - Office 2008 for Mac
  •                         2010 – Office 2010 for Windows
  •                         2010 - Office 2011 for Mac
  •                         2013 – Office 2013 for Windows

Office for Mac 2011 launched in October 2010 (FOUR AND A HALF YEARS AGO!). Office 2013 for Windows launched in January 2013. A long time has passed, not just since Office for Mac 2011 launch, but also since Office 2013 for Windows was launched.

By comparison, Office 2010 for Windows launched in June 2010 and Office for Mac 2011 launched just 4 months later in October 2010. We're now looking at nearly 18 months since the Windows version launched.

This is the longest period of time to have passed between Office for Mac updates, the previous record being 1,088 days, while the longest length of time passing between a Windows and a Mac version update to date has been 188 days.

It's now been more than 1,600 days since Office for Mac 2011 launched... Not that we're counting.

Microsoft is targetting a release date for the next version of Office for PC as the second half 2015. 

To find out more about the next version of Microsoft Office, including details of the Windows version turn to the second page.