Businesses using Macs have a couple options when it comes to licensing Microsoft Office software. Organizations can purchase Office 365 subscriptions, a growing trend, including for hosted Exchange services. OEM licenses are an alternative, although the choice’s popularity is increasingly fading. Or, businesses can purchase on-premises (volume) licenses.

Microsoft is targeting the latter group with its Office for Mac 2019 commercial preview, released in June 2018. Ultimately, Microsoft plans to release Office for Mac 2019 concurrently with Office for Windows sometime in the second half of 2018.

SEE: Software licensing policy (Tech Pro Research)

Office 2019 for Mac will include Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and OneNote and will come with many enhancements for users and IT departments.

The platform’s enhancements are already available to Office 365 ProPlus subscribers; however, not every business is ready to migrate licensing to cloud models and still seek to leverage volume licenses. So, the 2019 Mac edition adds a roaming pencil case, which is the ability to track various digital pen, pencil, and highlighter options and settings across multiple apps and devices for users, and ribbon customization, which permits customizing apps’ menu settings, for all applications in the suite.

Each program within Microsoft’s Office suite receives various improvements, too.

Word receives a new Focus mode, which minimizes distractions when drafting documents, and new translation capabilities, as well as improved inking using a Windows Pen. Accessibility options are also updated, including a darker theme, learning tool captions, text-to-speech capabilities, and audio descriptions for features.

SEE: Microsoft delivers Office 2019 for Mac test build (ZDNet)

PowerPoint packs new Morph transitions, which animate movements between slides. In addition, the slide deck software adds the ability to insert and manage icons and three-dimensional models and support for exporting 4k video. A new play in-click sequence is also included.

Excel receives new funnel charts and two-dimensional maps. New Excel functions include CONCAT, TEXTJOIN, IFS, and SWITCH.

Outlook has a focused Inbox. Developers also enabled more efficient email processing by adding support for @mentions, the ability to send messages later or on a delay, email templates, and travel and delivery summary information.

Office 2019 for Mac: What IT pros need to know

Office 2019 for Mac includes features to help IT departments better manage deployment and administration, too.

Command-line functions assist configuring update settings, while improved mobile-device management policy and preference support and compatibility are baked into the new platform. These improvements better enable IT departments to enforce organization-wide security policies, including for Visual Basic macros and application controls.

Organizations that want to test the commercial preview can do so by registering with Microsoft Collaborate. Microsoft notes that the Office 2019 commercial preview is intended for businesses that plan to deploy perpetual, volume-licensed, versions of Office 2019 only; mobile previews are not included in the preview program. More instructions for joining the Office 2019 preview, as well as loading the software and submitting feedback, can be found on Microsoft’s site.