I remember when the release of a new Microsoft Office platform was a significant event. Technology professionals typically attended regional events, as much for swag and prerelease CDs (and later, DVDs) as to witness new features. In the 2015 business environment, Office releases no longer generate the same fanfare. Considering the role productivity applications fulfill, a new Office release actually serves as one of the few technical innovations that impacts professionals’ daily lives. Fortunately for Apple users, there are several new features packed in Office 2016 for Mac, making the new release a compelling upgrade.

Microsoft developers clearly listened to Apple professionals’ feedback. The new Office platform incorporates support for native Mac capabilities. Retina high-resolution compatibility, Apple’s Full Screen view and Mult-Touch gestures are all now supported, so it’s easier and more seamless for Mac users to migrate between applications without having to abandon intuitive gestures or application interaction behaviors.

Critical elements are refreshed, too. The ribbon is updated. Mac users also receive new task pane views.

Integrated cloud support means Mac users who also edit files on iPads and iPhones can pick up where they left off using the other devices. New collaboration features make it easier, too, to share documents, presentations, and spreadsheets with other team members.

Word’s new Design tab lets you more easily design professional-appearing files with the help of professional-grade design packages, including layouts, color schemes, and typefaces. Drafting documents and collaboration also receives a boost from new threaded comments.

Excel, meanwhile, is redesigned to simplify visualizing numeric information. The application now recommends the best charts for representing the type of information included within the spreadsheet. New PivotTable enhancements, called Slicers, permit filtering of large data sets. These PivotTable Slicers can also assist in identifying patterns when working with large amounts of data.

A new animation pane freshens PowerPoint. The presentation application also receives a new Presenter view to help provide Mac users with greater flexibility delivering presentations.

Love it or hate it, Outlook receives an improved Conversations view. The new view automatically organizes the Inbox, collecting threaded Conversations–email messages tied to the same subject–within the same thread. The message preview now includes the first sentence of a message, along with the subject line, to help users determine whether an incoming message needs to be addressed immediately or can wait. Since the new Outlook application possesses push support, the inbox remains current.

Microsoft announced the release of Office 2016 for Mac on its blog on July 9th. Microsoft chose to make the new Office platform available to Office 365 users first. Standalone sales are scheduled to begin in September.

To install Microsoft Office 2016 for Mac, Apple professionals can log in to their Office 365 account. From the default My Account Office 365 Home page, click the orange Install button. The Office 2016 installation file will begin downloading.

On my Mac, the Microsoft_Office_2016_Installer.pkg file was 1.16 GB. The Install Microsoft Office 2016 for Mac installer opens upon executing the installer. The wizard will walk you through the installation process, which includes accepting the license agreement and specifying the installation location, where my installer noted that 6.43 GB of disk space was required.

Once it’s installed, Office 365 users are prompted to activate the new Office platform by logging in to their Microsoft Office 365 account, upon which the new version becomes accessible and operational.

What office productivity software do you prefer on your Mac or iOS devices? Share your experience in the discussion thread below.