Microsoft Office 2011 for Mac Won’t Include 64-bit Support

Microsoft’s Office for Mac 2011 is scheduled for release this fall, but it won’t include 64-bit support. The reasoning behind sticking with 32-bit support, according to the company, is because they’re still working on transitioning to Cocoa for Mac OS X.

“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,” MacBU product unit manger Jake Hoelter said. “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.”

Microsoft expects this won’t be a major issue for most of its Mac customers because one of the benefits of writing 64-bit applications is the ability to work with extremely large files — something Microsoft thinks the majority of Office users don’t do.

“Most users with typical or even larger-than-average document content will not notice a difference in performance. Where 64-bit can 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,” Mr. Hoelter said.

Microsoft isn’t saying when it plans to transition to 64-bit support for Office for the Mac. Since its MacBU division is already working on moving to Apple’s more modern developer tools, hopefully the next major upgrade after Office 2011 will finally include 64-bit support.