Jump to content
jpelg

Making the switch: Windows to Mac - MS Office interoperability?

Recommended Posts

So, my wife needs a new laptop. Currently, she (and I) both use Windows-based laptops for home & work, so that is the OS with which she is familiar. However, she has had iPhones since v6 (now on vX 256GB), and also uses an iPad for most casual tasks (web-browsing, e-book reading, etc.).

The Windows laptop is used only on-occasion for more mundane tasks. Predominant PC use-cases include iTunes library base/backup, and creating/sharing documents for the local Rotary club (MS Word & Excel files). So, she needs an HD capacity bigger than her phone, as well as the latest Microsoft Office suite.

Given her leanings toward other Apple products, she is considering a MacBook to replace her aging Windows laptop. OS-differences aside, my main question has to do with MS Office file compatibility across operating systems (assuming MS Office 2019 on both sides). Word-compatibility should be pretty easy, but Excel functionality needs to match nearly 100% between Mac & Windows versions.

Can anyone who has switched operating system platforms, or use both, AND use Microsoft Office on both, comment on issues, caveats, etc. when it comes down to file sharing?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We use office for mac at work and I also use it on my PC at home when I'm doing work on the weekends. The features ARE NOT the same. They are more than 95% the same, but that last 5ish% can vary between the two platforms as the Mac version usually gets new features a bit later than the windows version.

It is hard to say for sure whether she would or would not mind the platform switch because the Office apps have so many features that what really matters is if the if ones she specifically uses are or aren't there. There are thousands of features in these office apps and every user tends to use a specific set of them.

Unless she is an extreme power user and macro god though, I bet she'd be fine on the mac version.

Edited by TMoney
  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Agreed. The biggest difference I find is in Excel VBA support. I use a pc at work with Office 365, and have Mac Office 2011 and 2016 on my Mac(s) at home. It is getting better on the Mac but still not at parity.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you both for your quick & detailed responses. Real-world advice is always much appreciated.

You both outline my own worries wrt file compatibility/interoperability. Two years ago, we both encountered issues (separately) when using MS Office 2013. She received an Excel file created in Excel 2016, which used a function not in v2013. I had a similar issue with a work assignment attempted to be completed at home). This prompted upgrades to Office 2016. And that is "Windows :: Windows"! My worry is that "Windows :: Mac" differences will likely be greater.

Maybe I can dissuade her from the MacBook & steer her toward a nice Surface Pro? We'll see..

Again, much appreciated guys. Cheers.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I’d still go with the Mac... but I’ve used them for years... more like decades :)


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

And as secondary advice I'd hedge on the Surface Pro as well.  We're using some Pro's and  Books at work, and there are some hardware/firmware issues we face....I use mine docked and with external KB/mouse mostly OK, but when I un-dock the keyboard misbehaves, and getting out of hibernate mode has been selectively difficult (which it jumps into randomly when it shouldn't, thought not in the middle of use).  My colleague has many issues with hers, docked or un-docked; she is possibly looking to get a new one as it is still under warranty and she's had SO many issues.....

FWIW, I've been keeping up on firmware updates, and it IS getting a bit better for me....but colleague still has a lemon.

And finally: another colleague has a relative who works at MS I think in their HW group - and expressed sympathy when told we use Surface laptops/tablets.... ?

Edited by skullguise
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
15 hours ago, jpelg said:

She received an Excel file created in Excel 2016, which used a function not in v2013. I had a similar issue with a work assignment attempted to be completed at home). This prompted upgrades to Office 2016. And that is "Windows :: Windows"! My worry is that "Windows :: Mac" differences will likely be greater.

I'd still switch.  Just because I hate Microsoft. 

If the issue was formatting, the originator could've exported the file to Excel v2013 format.  I don't know if there's an equivalent for functions, though. 

But if you do switch and run into the problem again, something to keep in mind. 

We actually have it set as default to save Word as .doc files and not .docx files at work to make sure no-one ever runs into compatibility issues, especially the client. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Speaking of new Macs have you all updated to Catalina? Still any compatibility issues? My old MBP won't take it, but wife's Air would. Unsure if it's working fine already.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

To echo what Dusty said, you normally won’t see much if any file compatibility issues with Office files in terms of formatting, etc.
Back when I was using VBA code at work a lot in Excel, when using the file at home, in many cases there were workarounds for missing functions (such as Split at the time). Slower, but worked. There are compile or runtime flags (ifmac or something like that) that would only use the VBA workaround on a Mac.

As to the Catalina question, I am not even though my 2012 i7 Mini can use it. I just updated it to High Sierra this weekend. I have some 32-bit programs I still use, Mac Office 2011 among them, so am hesitant to go above where I am at currently. I’m also not sure what the current Catalina verdict is as well.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

These days I take a somewhat pessimistic attitude toward major software updates - I wait a bit for it to mature before jumping on board given a choice.

Software vendors no longer test the new release as thoroughly as in the past before releasing it to the public and I speak from firsthand experience. The early adapters are more like beta testers these days.

I did not have a choice and had to upgrade my office-owned iPad to the latest iPadOS version recently. While I am sure the new OS is more secured (main reason for the upgrade), many things just do not work right and will likely take a few patches to rectify.  

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm still on mojave. (I have about $500 worth of upgrades I need to purchase to be all 64 bit).

I know a lot of folks who have updated to Catalina and there hasn't been any issues for them that I've heard of.

If you check with something like Go64 and the apps you use are ready (or you can easily upgrade), I don't see why you should be worried. 

https://www.stclairsoft.com/Go64/

Just be sure and backup your entire system before upgrading.

If you hate it, you can always erase your drive and clone your backup back onto your mac.

  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There are definitely feature differences between Mac Office and Windows versions of Microsoft Office applications.

Casual users won't notice, but power users (particularly in Excel, but also sometimes in Word) will notice a lot of Windows features are completely missing in the Mac versions. And, of course, some Windows Office applications are completely missing Mac versions (e.g., Access, Publisher, etc.).

The great thing about running a Mac is that you can use both, though. Install Windows 10 via Boot Camp or Parallels/Fusion and you can switch over when you're hitting those feature limitations. Some of the Microsoft Office365 licenses allow installation on multiple devices, so then you're only out the cost of the Windows license (which you can bring over from a spare Windows 7 install key: https://www.howtogeek.com/266072/you-can-still-get-windows-10-for-free-with-a-windows-7-8-or-8.1-key/).

Then you just have to remember that the CMD key is the Windows key and the Option key is the Alt key.

The Office files are totally interoperable between modern versions of Microsoft Office, e.g., 2016+ (and I recommend only using the newer Office 2007+ XML file formats: .docx, .xlsx, .pptx because the file sizes are smaller, they are an open standard, and they get corrupted less often). Other applications are slightly less than 100% compatible with complex Office files, like Apple's iWork apps (Pages, Numbers, Keynote) or LibreOffice.

Edited by HiWire
  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
19 hours ago, HiWire said:

Casual users won't notice, but power users (particularly in Excel, but also sometimes in Word) will notice a lot of Windows features are completely missing in the Mac versions.

I am a pretty heavy Excel user and I cannot think of any significant feature that is missing from a 2016+ Mac version of Excel. I certainly do not use all the features so I am curious as to what is missing. I do use the Windows version of Excel on actual and virtual Windows machines but not as regularly as the MacOS version.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A few of the basic ones:

https://www.howtogeek.com/340435/whats-the-difference-between-microsoft-office-for-windows-and-macos/

https://www.maketecheasier.com/disappointing-differences-microsoft-office-for-mac/

I've come up against a bunch of things that are different between PC vs Mac Office from my coworkers asking over the years as well (smaller things in windows and drop-down lists) that simply aren't there in the Mac apps. Since we're a mainly Mac office, sometimes we don't know what we're missing other than by searching the web.

Edited by HiWire

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Interesting. Thanks for that as it confirmed that there is nothing I am missing. I did use Access in the past but I never really liked it. My database needs now are pretty simple and I find R/Python to work very well. Since I now have broken down and updated my version of Parallels so I can have a working version of SPSS, I will probably now explore Visio as I have been wanting to try it out.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

FWIW the crippled version of Office isn't the Mac or Windows versions, its the iOS and Android ones. Good for data entry and text editing, not so great for much else.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 minutes ago, TMoney said:

FWIW the crippled version of Office isn't the Mac or Windows versions, its the iOS and Android ones. Good for data entry and text editing, not so great for much else.

Agreed. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I prefer LibreOffice – I don't think the official OpenOffice fork is being actively developed.

We receive LibreOffice docs from partners from time to time – I always convert them to MS Office docs right away for my coworkers. LibreOffice has been getting much better in feature parity compared to MS Office and they can mostly share documents without a problem using the MS Office 2007+ formats. Mostly I use LibreOffice for opening a difficult file, as it doesn't seem to mind about locks and permissions in the strict sense that MS Office does.

In my opinion, most people could probably use LibreOffice as a free MS Office replacement without too much of a problem. Hardcore business users are going to balk at the clunky interface style and less streamlined advanced options (and re-learning), which is why Microsoft's office apps are still in business.

I don't like that LibreOffice still uses Java for its Base (database) app, but there have been murmurings of moving it away from Java for years.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It is all about what features you need. The free solutions like Libre Office, MS Office Online or the Google Apps are great for basic editing and some intermediate level features.

Where Microsoft hooks you in to paying for 365 is when you need advanced stuff. My experience is mostly in Word and Excel and my firm could not go without the paid versions. We use the advanced stuff every day.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Picked up one of the newer MacBook Pro 16" (i7, 16GB Memory, 512GB SSD, in Space Gray) yesterday for my wife. Seems pretty nice. I haven't owned or played with a Mac in a long time. Still have to install MS Office.

Thanks all for the inputs. Much appreciated.

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...