Apple has released an update to the El Capitan operating system that could fix problems Mac users are having with Microsoft Office 2016 on the latest OS.
Apple promises that the OS X El Capitan 10.11.1 update improves compatibility with Microsoft Office 2016, although the firm does not go as far as to guarantee the problems will totally disappear.
Since the launch of El Capitan, Mac users have been suffering from Microsoft Office and Outlook crashes, both with the 2011 and 2016 versions.
One Mac user noted, "I have been enjoying my El Capitan experience, however I have been experiencing glitches whenever I try to do the split screen feature. Microsoft Word and other applications crash whenever I try to use this feature. Other applications have not been preforming well and crash."
El Capitan 10.11.1 also fixes issues around Apple's own Mail client, where outgoing server information may be missing and which prevented messages and mailboxes displaying, along with various Mac OS security fixes.
The El Capitan update from Apple comes after Microsoft advised that it would not be rolling out a fix for the issues Outlook 2016 users are experiencing with the latest Mac OS X version.
On 13 October, Microsoft released a Office 2016 for Mac update, which the firm said contains new features, security fixes and stability improvements.
However, Microsoft also noted, "This update doesn't address the issues experienced by Office customers with OS X 10.11 El Capitan."
Instead, Mac users who rely on Office 2016 were asked to wait until Apple rolled out the next version of El Capitan. "We are actively working with Apple to ensure resolution with the next update of OS X 10.11 El Capitan," Microsoft said at the time.
Microsoft had already rolled out an update designed to fix problems Outlook 2011 users are encountering with the latest El Capitan operating system.
OS X El Capitan was made available to download for free for current Mac users on 30 September. It supports Macs introduced in 2009 and later, and some models introduced in 2007 and 2008, running OS X 10.6.8 and above.
However, it quickly became apparent that getting Outlook 2011 and 2016 emails or calendar updates on Macs running the latest OS was going to be an ongoing problem. The Outlook client opens as normal but when it tries to sync with the mail server, it displays the spinning wheel and totally freezes.
Microsoft previously released an Office for Mac 2011 14.5.6 update in response to hundreds of complaints about its email software on the latest Mac OS X El Capitan.
"This update provides the following fixes to improve Mac OS X El Capitan compatibility. The hang situation that occurs during an account sync operation in Microsoft Outlook for Mac 2011 is fixed," Microsoft claimed.
However, some users are still reporting problems with the updated email client even after installing the Outlook 2011 update.
"I installed the update from Microsoft which is supposed to fix the issue. Outlook was already hanging up with the wheel turning when I returned to it after reading an article on the web," one user noted.
We downloaded the update last week and found that at first the spinning wheel returned shortly after opening the application and the sync with the server occured. However, Outlook 2011 is now running more reliably on our Mac, although with slower response times.
These problems will be a major issue for business users, as Outlook is still widely used in the corporate market.
"Through all the numerous questions, answers and comments on the internet regarding the inability for Outlook 2011 to run on Mac's new OS version - El Capitan, there is no information as to any timeline for a fix. This issue is killing me and my business," J Heck pointed out on the Outlook for Mac support forum.
"I absolutely do not want to switch to Apple's mail program if I can avoid it!!! Has anyone heard if Microsoft and/or Apple are working on this serious problem, and if so, any idea of how soon a fix might be available?"
Microsoft was aware of the problem as of 25 September. For those still encountering problems, it suggests users run an older version of Mac OS X, not ideal for those who have already upgraded to El Capitan.
"Shortly after you start Microsoft Outlook for Mac 2011 on Mac OS X El Capitan (version 10.11), Outlook hangs when it tries to sync with the server. The Spinning Wait cursor is displayed, and the application status is displayed as 'Not Responding'," Microsoft said ahead of the El Capitan release.
"Note Outlook for Mac 2011 does not hang when you're working offline or when no accounts are added. This issue occurs only when Outlook tries to sync an account with the server. To work around this issue, run Outlook for Mac 2011 on Mac OS X Yosemite (version 10.10) or an earlier version."
Microsoft Outlook 2016 users are also encountering the same issues.
"I'm having the same issues with Microsoft Office 2016 running on El Capitan. Unbelievable that every other developer was able to fix their software, yet Office basically is non-functional," noted one user on the Microsoft Mac forum.
Faisal Jeelani, Program Management for Outlook for Mac, implied that Apple has some part in the issues with the 2016 Outlook version on El Capitan.
"For 2016 we are working closely with Apple to resolve this issue as soon as possible. Unfortunately we do not have any timelines for either fix, please stay tuned and thank you for your understanding," Jeelani said.
One disgruntled user responded: "[Apple] should have put a big red banner on their upgrade site that states 'Will make Outlook and other Windows programs unusable'."
If Mac users or their company have an Office 365 subscription or Exchange online subscription, they will still be able to use Outlook via a web browser. However, the web app is a poor relation to the email client available for Macs and Macbooks, so Microsoft and Apple definitely need to work on a proper fix for this issue.
There was further disappointment for Office for Mac users as one of the best additions for business users, Split View, is not fully supported by El Capitan.
Users running the latest Office 2016 for Mac suite will be able to open Word, Excel or PowerPoint docs and work on them side by side in the Split View format alongside other supported applications like the Safari or Chrome browser, Skype or Messages apps.
However, for the many still running Office 2011 for Mac, Microsoft's older productivity apps are not supported for Split View and will instead see these in windows tucked away at the bottom of the desktop with the message 'Not available in full screen'.
Other Apple users had already been complaining of long delays when downloading the El Capitan update.
We downloaded the 6.08GB Mac OS update at 9am on 1 October on a 15in 2013 Macbook Pro. The entire process took around 1.5 hours, with over an hour for the download to appear on our hard drive, and only 20 minutes for the installation process to complete.
However, others faced much longer update processes, with quoted times at several hours or even days.
#ElCapitan started downloading 2 hrs ago, another 3hrs to go. Crap download speeds here!!!— Justin Green (@JustinGreen19) October 1, 2015
It is worth noting that these might not be the final download times. We were quoted 3.5 hours initially but the actual process shaved two hours off that time.
Once users have managed to get El Capitan running on their Mac, they will find the OS comes with numerous new features that refine, rather than overhaul, the platform.
These range from simple improvements such as being able to find the cursor more easily by shaking the track pad or mouse to increase its size briefly, to being able to locate and stop music playing on web tabs via a new mute button.
An updated Mission Control lets users arrange all their windows via a single layer so it is easier to find a particular window or drag one out the way.
Other changes include improvements to the Spotlight search function to provide more data on areas of interest, such as stock prices, sport scores and weather data. Multi-tasking has also been improved with a new Split View function so users can work on two apps side by side.
Smart Suggestions in the Mail client will recognise names or events in messages and suggest adding them to the contacts or calendar apps with a single click, while an updated Notes app lets users drag and drop photos, PDFs or videos, as well as Safari web links or Maps locations via the Share menu into a note.
Apple boasts that El Capitan will also offer a boost in system performance thanks to its Metal graphics technology, which the firm said accelerates Core Animation and Core Graphics to improve rendering by up to 50 percent, and efficiency by up to 40 percent.
Apple released a beta version of Mac OS X El Capitan in July, allowing people to try out the new operating system before the final release later this year. Apple also called for beta users to give their feedback so the firm could make final tweaks and improvements, and Apple said the process has been helpful.
"El Capitan refines the Mac experience and improves performance in a lot of little ways that make a very big difference," said Craig Federighi, Apple's senior vice president of software engineering.
"Feedback from our OS X beta programme has been incredibly positive and we think customers are going to love their Macs even more with El Capitan."
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