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Office for Mac 2011 to be 32-bit only

Microsoft downplays 64-bit version's differences

Office 2010 Paste Preview

Microsoft has announced that Office for Mac 2011, its office suite for Macs to be released this autumn, will only be available as a 32-bit version.

In a Microsoft blog posting earlier this week, Jake Hoelter, product manager at Microsoft’s Macintosh business unit, said the lack of a 64-bit version was the result of spending time developing greater compatibility between Office for Mac and Office for Windows.

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‘In Office 2011, we’ve made investments in better compatibility between Office for Mac and Windows Office, which is the largest request we receive from customers’, he wrote. ‘We think we have some outstanding improvements to show you in this area, and we’ll continue to share details in coming weeks.

‘Our work to increase compatibility means we haven’t completed the transition of moving the entire user interface over to Cocoa yet. And because Apple’s frameworks require us to complete the move to Cocoa before we can build a 64-bit version, Office 2011 will be 32-bit only.’

Cocoa is the programming language that is used to write native applications for Mac-users.

Office for Mac 2011 32-bit vs 64-bit

Hooelter stressed that most users of Office from Mac 2011 would hardly notice a difference in performance with the 32-bit version. ‘The largest difference between using a 32-bit and 64-bit version is the memory capacity available for your content’, he wrote. 

‘Most users with typical or even larger-than-average document content will not notice a difference in performance.’

But he added that 64-bit could make a difference is for people working with huge amounts of data, such as those creating very large Excel files with data in millions of cells, or PowerPoint presentations with thousands of high resolution images.

Office 2011 features and ease of use more important

‘While it’s a shame for a few Mac users, such as universities, that deal with lots of data in spreadsheets that Microsoft are lagging in moving Office to being 64-bit compatible, most consumers won’t notice the difference’, says Which? technology editor Matthew Bath. 

‘More important are the new features and ease of use, and we’ll be looking at how the new Microsoft Office performs in our up-coming tests.’

Office for Mac 2011, which will be released in the autumn, includes many of the features in Office 2010 such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint.

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