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The End of Microsoft Office for Mac 2011 Is Nigh

If you still use Microsoft Office for Mac 2011, it’s time to make some decisions. Two upcoming events could make it unsuitable or even unusable in the future:

  • Microsoft is ending support for Office 2011 on 10 October 2017. Microsoft will not release any more updates for the application suite after that date. That means no more bug fixes or, more important, security updates.

  • Apple is phasing out support for 32-bit apps starting in 2018, saying that macOS 10.13 High Sierra will be the last version of macOS that will support 32-bit apps “without compromises.” What exactly that means is uncertain, but if you depend on 32-bit apps like Office 2011, you may need to find alternatives by this time next year.

Although Office 2011 should work in macOS 10.13 High Sierra, Microsoft is offering no guarantees, saying “Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and Lync have not been tested on macOS 10.13 High Sierra, and no formal support for this configuration will be provided.” In other words, if you use Office 2011 in High Sierra, you’re on your own.

In summary, if you still rely on Office 2011, you should consider one of the following options:

  • Continue using Office 2011 and hold off on updating to High Sierra. This approach buys you some time but isn’t a sound long-term solution. Avoiding updates to both macOS and Microsoft Office will expose you to the inevitable security vulnerabilities.
  • Buy a copy of Office 2016. Office Home & Student 2016 costs $149.99, while Office Home & Business 2016 for Mac runs $229.99. Both are limited to one user and one Mac. The only difference between the two is that the latter includes Outlook while the former doesn’t.

  • Subscribe to Office 365, which is what Microsoft would prefer you do. Office 365 Personal costs $69.99 per year or $6.99 per month while Office 365 Home is $9.99 per month or $99.99 per year. The only difference is that Office 365 Personal works for only one user, while Office 365 Home allows up to five. Both also provide other goodies, like access to the Office iOS apps, OneDrive cloud storage, and Skype minutes.

  • Switch to an alternative, such as Apple’s iWork suite, Google Docs/Sheets/Slides, and the various OpenOffice variants. However, many people rely on Microsoft Office for their jobs, and alternatives aren’t acceptable. But if you don’t use Office for work, you could save a lot of money by switching.

    Check out “Your Favorite Mac Word Processors” (17 July 2017) for guidance on the word processor front. In the spreadsheet category, I can say from personal experience that nothing quite compares to Excel — Numbers offers a few unique benefits and works well for home users, but nothing crunches numbers as well as Excel. For presentations, most people acknowledge that Keynote is superior to PowerPoint, but that’s only relevant if full PowerPoint compatibility isn’t your top priority.

Weigh your options, but make a choice soon. The longer you hold off on the transition, the more painful it will likely be.

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