APPLE HAS ROLLED OUT an update to the El Capitan operating system, which it said will sort out problems Mac users are having with Microsoft Office 2016 on the latest OS.
Apple promises that the OS X El Capitan 10.11.1 update improves compatibility with Microsoft Office 2016, although the firm does not go as far as to guarantee the problems will totally disappear. Since the launch of El Capitan, Mac users have been suffering from Microsoft Office and Outlook crashes, both with the 2011 and 2016 versions.
One Mac user noted, "I have been enjoying my El Capitan experience, however I have been experiencing glitches whenever I try to do the split screen feature. Microsoft Word and other applications crash whenever I try to use this feature. Other applications have not been preforming well and crash."
El Capitan 10.11.1 also fixes issues around Apple's own Mail client, where outgoing server information may be missing and which prevented messages and mailboxes displaying, along with various Mac OS security fixes.
Apple launched the latest official version of its Mac operating system in late September, but the original update crashed Microsoft Outlook. Microsoft has since rolled out an update designed to fix the problem, but it does not appear to have worked for everyone.
Microsoft released the Office for Mac 2011 14.5.6 update in response to hundreds of complaints that its email software constantly crashes on the latest Mac OS X El Capitan.
"This update provides the following fixes to improve Mac OS X El Capitan compatibility. The hang situation that occurs during an account sync operation in Microsoft Outlook for Mac 2011 is fixed," Microsoft claimed.
However, some users are still reporting problems with the updated email client.
"I installed the update from Microsoft which is supposed to fix the issue. Outlook was already hanging up with the wheel turning when I returned to it after reading an article on the web," one INQUIRER reader noted.
We downloaded the Office 2011 update and found that, while Outlook now runs on the affected Mac for a few minutes, the spinning wheel returns shortly after opening the application and the sync with the server occurs.
OS X El Capitan was made available to download for free for current Mac users on 30 September. El Capitan supports Macs introduced in 2009 and later, and some models introduced in 2007 and 2008, running OS X 10.6.8 and above.
However, it quickly became apparent that getting Outlook 2011 and 2016 emails or calendar updates on Macs running the latest OS was going to be an ongoing problem. The Outlook client opens as normal but when it tries to sync with the mail server, it just displays the spinning wheel and totally freezes.
This led to many annoyed users wishing they hadn't updated to El Capitan in the first place, including ourselves as we use - well, used to use - Outlook 2011 on a MacBook for our work email.
"Through all the numerous questions, answers and comments on the internet regarding the inability for Outlook 2011 to run on Mac's new OS version, El Capitan, there is no information as to any timeline for a fix. This issue is killing me and my business," J Heck pointed out on the Outlook for Mac support forum.
"I absolutely do not want to switch to Apple's mail program if I can avoid it!!! Has anyone heard if Microsoft and/or Apple are working on this serious problem, and if so, any idea of how soon a fix might be available?"
Microsoft has been aware of the problem since 25 September, and initially the firm suggested users run an older version of Mac OS X, not ideal for those who have already upgraded to El Capitan.
"Shortly after you start Microsoft Outlook for Mac 2011 on Mac OS X El Capitan (version 10.11), Outlook hangs when it tries to sync with the server. The spinning wait cursor is displayed, and the application status is displayed as 'Not Responding'," Microsoft said last month.
"Note Outlook for Mac 2011 does not hang when you're working offline or when no accounts are added. This issue occurs only when Outlook tries to sync an account with the server. To work around this issue, run Outlook for Mac 2011 on Mac OS X Yosemite (version 10.10) or an earlier version."
Microsoft Outlook 2016 users are also encountering the same problems.
"I'm having the same issues with Microsoft Office 2016 running on El Capitan. Unbelievable that every other developer was able to fix their software, yet Office basically is non-functional," noted one user on the Microsoft Mac forum.
Faisal Jeelani, programme manager for Outlook for Mac, replied that Microsoft is aware of the problems with the 2011 and 2016 Outlook versions on El Capitan.
"We are working on a fix for 2011 and for 2016. We are working closely with Apple to resolve this issue as soon as possible. Unfortunately we do not have any timelines for either fix. Please stay tuned and thank you for your understanding," Jeelani said.
One disgruntled user responded: "[Apple] should have put a big red banner on their upgrade site that states 'Will make Outlook and other Windows programs unusable'."
If you or your company has an Office 365 subscription or Exchange online subscription, you'll still be able to use Outlook via a web browser. However, the web app is a poor relation to the email client available for Macs and Macbooks, so Microsoft and Apple definitely need to work on a proper fix for this issue
For those users looking forward to taking advantage of new features in El Capitan to make up for the loss of Outlook, be prepared to be disappointed again. It turns out one of the best additions for business users, Split View, isn't fully supported on Microsoft Office apps by the latest Mac OS X.
If you're running the latest Office 2016 for Mac suite, you'll be able to open Word, Excel or PowerPoint docs and work on them side by side in the Split View format alongside other supported applications like the Safari or Chrome browser, Skype or Messages apps.
However, if you're one of the many still running the older Office 2011 for Mac, you're out of luck as Microsoft's last-gen productivity apps aren't supported for Split View. When you pick your first app for Split View by holding down the green maximise button, you'll instead see these windows tucked away at the bottom of your desktop with the message 'Not available in full screen'.
So all in all, we'd recommend that, if you're a Mac user running lots of Microsoft applications, stick with Yosemite or older for now until either Microsoft or Apple has sorted these problems.
Other Apple users had already been complaining of long delays when downloading the El Capitan update.
We downloaded the 6.08GB Mac OS update at 9am on 1 October on a 15in 2013 MacBook Pro. The entire process took around 1.5 hours, with over an hour for the download to appear on our hard drive, and only 20 minutes for the installation process to complete.
However, others faced much longer update processes, with quoted times at several hours or even days.
#ElCapitan started downloading 2 hrs ago, another 3hrs to go. Crap download speeds here!!!— Justin Green (@JustinGreen19) October 1, 2015
It is worth noting that these might not be the final download times. We were quoted 3.5 hours initially but the actual process shaved two hours off that time.
Once users have managed to get El Capitan running on their Mac, they will find the OS comes with numerous new features that refine, rather than overhaul, the platform.
These range from simple improvements such as being able to find the cursor more easily by shaking the track pad or mouse to increase its size briefly, to being able to locate and stop music playing on web tabs via a new mute button. µ
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