Microsoft gets an earful as Office for Mac 2016 users amp ire over crashes
Apple's latest beta of OS X 10.11.1, aka El Capitan's first update, lists Office 2016 as an area of focus, hinting the OS is at least partly responsible
By Gregg Keizer
Users of Microsoft’s Office for Mac 2016 who upgraded to Apple’s OS X 10.11, aka El Capitan, have become increasingly frustrated by repeated crashes of the Office applications, angrily denouncing Microsoft, and to a lesser extent, Apple, on the former’s support forum.
“It’s called Office ‘2016’ because that’s the expected date it ‘might’ work, although when in 2016 is not clear, assuming we are using the Gregorian calendar!” wrote someone identified only as “bluedolphin” in a Tuesday message on the longest thread dedicated to the crash issue.
As of late Wednesday, that thread had been viewed more than 39,000 times and contained nearly 400 messages, both very high numbers for the Office for Mac support forums.
Most focused their ire on Microsoft.
“Light a fire under somebody’s a__ to get a fix out, or at least a work-around,” urged “MS Patsy” in a Monday reply to a Microsoft program manager who had posted on the thread last week. “Now you know why I switched to all Mac products. Windows and Outlook are the only remnants of Microsoft JUNK that I’m left with.”
But some expanded their exasperation to include Apple.
“How is it remotely feasible that neither Microsoft (mostly at blame) or Apple (ignorance is not great customer service) had any proactive communication to NOT DOWNLOAD EL CAPITAN?” asked a commenter labeled “cxr341” on Tuesday. “It would have been a simple correspondence: ‘Hey, we see you use our new Office 2016 on Mac, there’s a big OS X update coming, give us a bit of time until you download it.’ No harm, no foul.”
The bulk of those reporting problems with Office for Mac 2016 began seeing the applications crash last week after they upgraded to OS X 10.11, aka El Capitan. The issue goes back further than that, however, with complaints first appearing July 10, just one day after Microsoft launched the production build of Office for Mac 2016 and Apple delivered its first public beta of El Capitan.
Most of the crashes involve Outlook, the suite’s email client, but other applications, including Word, Excel and PowerPoint, also regularly drop dead, either separately or when Outlook goes down. Computerworld staffers running Office for Mac 2016 on El Capitan-powered Macs have been affected as well.
Not everyone has had to deal with crashing productivity. An engineer who specializes on the Mac and works for a multi-national IT services firm reached out to Computerworld, saying that none of those in his workplace’s pilot program had seen Office 2016 for Mac crash or freeze when running on El Capitan.
On Wednesday, Microsoft issued a fix for a separate-but-related issue, one involving Office for Mac 2011, the new suite’s predecessor. That problem had caused Outlook 2011 on El Capitan to crash when syncing with Exchange mail servers.
An update to Office for Mac 2011 claimed to stop the crashes, and users commenting on Microsoft’s support forums confirmed that they were again working without interruption.
Not surprisingly, that prompted people running Office for 2016 to ask when their needs would be addressed. “Where is Office for Mac 2016’s fix?” wondered “Tony Lin_8” on Wednesday.
Microsoft was not ready to set a timetable for an Office for Mac 2016 update. “Please stay tuned for the fixes for Mac Outlook 2016 on El Capitan,” wrote Faisal Jeelani, a Microsoft program manager, in the longest thread Wednesday. “I will update this thread as soon as we have something to share. Thank you for your patience and understanding.”
On another thread, a different Microsoft program manager offered a bit more information. “We have isolated the hang after crash/force quit that impacts all Office 2016 apps as well as Outlook 2016 repeated crash after launch,” Sunder Raman said yesterday. “We are working with Apple on a solution, please stay tuned.”
Previously, Raman had referenced working with Apple, as had a company spokeswoman, implying that the problem was within El Capitan or that the fault was shared by both companies.
A third possibility, that Microsoft was simply gathering information from Apple, seemed more remote Wednesday after Apple released Beta 3 of OS X 10.11.1, the first expected update to El Capitan, to both developers and public testers.
While the public beta’s description only said that it was addressing stability, compatibility and security issues, the developer’s version listed Office 2016 as one of two areas of focus, a clue that El Capitan is at least partly to blame for the crashes.
Computerworld downloaded and installed the public preview of Beta 3 Wednesday, and although Office for Mac 2016 applications had not crashed since, it was too early to call the problem solved. After installing Beta 2 last week, Computerworld’s Macs running the new suite were crash-free for approximately 36 hours, at which point crashes and application lock-ups resumed.
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