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Microsoft readies Office for Big Sur, M1-based Macs

Microsoft on Wednesday issued a preview of Office for the Mac that will run natively on Apple’s upcoming ARM-based laptops.

The Redmond, Wash. company also modified its Intel-based macOS Office applications so that they run on Apple’s newest, Big Sur, and have been optimized for translation by Rosetta 2 — the built-in technology that makes it possible to run older software on the ARM silicon inside the new MacBook Air, MacBook Pro and Mac Mini.

In effect, Microsoft now has two lines of Office for the Mac.

The latest, a Universal App iteration of Office, was released to the Beta channel of Office Insider, Microsoft’s preview program, on Nov. 11, according to Erik Schwiebert, a principal software engineer for Apple products at Microsoft. A Universal App is one with binaries that run on Intel-based and Apple Silicon Mac hardware.

(On Tuesday, Apple unveiled three Mac models powered by its own ARM-based silicon, a system-on-a-chip (SoC) dubbed M1. While those machines — configurations of the MacBook Air, the 13-in. MacBook Pro and the Mac Mini — can be ordered now, they are to be delivered to buyers in a few days and reach retail on Nov. 17.)

Users must have an Office 365 or Microsoft 365 account to join Office Insider, and thus experiment with the Beta of the Office Universal App. Instructions on installing the Beta are available here.

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.

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