The installation screen for OS X El Capitan. Credit: Martyn Williams
Apple yesterday released OS X 10.11.1, the first update for its El Capitan operating system, and implied that the refresh includes a fix for the crash problems that users of Microsoft's Office 2016 for Mac have reported for months.
Among the notations listed in Apple's accompanying update description was one that stated, "Improves compatibility with Microsoft Office 2016."
Other items on the list ranged from improved reliability when upgrading to El Capitan to resolutions for issues within Mail, the OS's built-in email client.
But the changes to El Capitan related to Office 2016 for Mac were what users of the suite have been waiting for.
Microsoft has taken a shellacking on its Office 2016 for Mac support discussion forum since Sept. 30, the day Apple released El Capitan. But reports of trouble running Excel, OneNote, Outlook and PowerPoint on the new OS X began in mid summer, just a day after Microsoft shipped the suite and Apple issued the first public beta of 10.11.
In a very active, very long discussion thread on Microsoft's support site, users said that Outlook would regularly crash on El Capitan, that its fall would take down other Office applications, or that the latter would lock up, cause Outlook to crash. The only way some were able to again run Office was to reboot their Macs, while scores reported losing hours' worth of work.
Computerworld staffers running Office 2016 for Mac on El Capitan-powered Macs were affected by the constant crashes as well.
Although most users blamed Microsoft for the screw-up, neither Microsoft nor Apple acknowledged fault. As time went on, however, Microsoft pointed to Apple as responsible, saying last week -- after releasing an update to Office for Mac 2016 -- that, "We are actively working with Apple to ensure resolution with the next update of OS X 10.11 El Capitan."
Today, a pair of Microsoft product managers simply urged users to update El Capitan to 10.11.1, without admitting blame or pointing fingers.
"Hello Everyone, Apple released the latest version of El Capitan this morning (10.11.1), please ensure that you are running the latest version of Office (15.15) and El Capitan (10.11.1)," wrote Faisal Jeelani, a member of the Outlook for Mac team, on one thread today.
"If you are using El Capitan, please update to 10.11.1 that Apple released today," added Sunder Raman, also with Microsoft, on another discussion thread.
Scattered reports on the longest thread were encouraging.
"Have been running El Capitan 10.11.1 and all five Office 15.15 apps from 365 Home, concurrently, for about an hour now, with no spinning beach balls of death, no force quits, and no more hangs than an occasional stutter," said someone identified only as "rhustwit" today. "Hurts that this all happened post-release, rather than in beta, but from where I sit, it looks like Apple and Microsoft have gotten their heads together and fixed the woes reported in this thread."
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