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June 5, 2018

Microsoft Office 365 apps will hit the revamped Mac App Store later this year

by John_A

As part of Apple’s announcement regarding MacOS Mojave, the revamped App Store, and support for the UIKit development framework used for iOS apps, the company has announced that Microsoft will be bringing Office 365 to the App Store on Mac later this year. These apps will be in addition to the Office 365 desktop programs you can already download and install on any Mac device. They will be joined by Adobe Lightroom CC, BBEdit from Bare Bones software, and Panic’s Transmit.

The news arrives by way of Apple’s product marketing manager for the Mac App Store, who claims that developers are excited over the App Store overhaul. In addition to Adobe, Bare Bones, and Panic, other names briefly flashed during the presentation included Serif, Bloom, Feral, Corel, Aspyr, Black Magic Design, Intua, and Houseparty. 

The excitement over the upcoming App Store revamp is well-earned. Launched in 2011, the current version isn’t exactly horrible, providing a Featured page, a Top Charts page, and a Categories page throwing apps into groups such as Business, Photography, Games, Productivity, and so on. You can access the pages via icons listed along the top along with pages listing your Purchased apps and the Updates section. 

But Apple looked closely at how customers used their Macs and decided to rebuild the App Store from the ground up. The example that was shown on-stage relied on the upcoming Dark Mode in MacOS Mojave and looked stunning. Instead of an icon-based toolbar strung along the top, you’ll see a menu riding down the left side of the App Store presenting tabs for Discover, Create, Work, Play, Develop, Categories, and Updates. 

That said, Apple pushed to bring the streamlined iOS experience over to MacOS, such as implementing a new user interface, video previews, app rankings, placing ratings and reviews front and center, and more. Apple also created a better method of leaving ratings and reviews to make feedback even easier for Mac owners. 

Currently Microsoft only provides five apps on the Mac App Store: Remote Desktop, OneDrive, OneNote, Band Sync, and RMS Sharing. That number pales in comparison to the huge library Microsoft serves up on iOS: Over 20 including its individual Office-based apps, Microsoft Edge, OneDrive, Xbox, Mixer, Skype, and more.  

Microsoft’s slim selection of apps on MacOS paints the current state of the Mac App Store. You won’t find the likes of Facebook, Netflix, Hulu, and Twitter, the latter of which pulled its app from the MacOS app store in favor of Mac owners getting the “full” experience using a web browser. Meanwhile, you’ll still find Twitter’s app on the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch alongside Facebook, Netflix, and Hulu. 

With the arrival of UIKit support in MacOS, developers won’t be required to create two separate apps for two separate platforms. Right now, Apple is supposedly keeping this feature all to itself to convert its in-house apps. UIKit support will go live for developers in 2019 although Microsoft may already have access to provide a premium Office app experience later this year. 

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