I finally loaded Office 2016 on my Mac. Here are my thoughts.
- Significantly more fluid and Mac-like scrolling
- Very Windows-y but significantly more pleasing interface than Office 2011—especially on a retina display
- Interface, button locations, etc. are more consistent with Windows version of Office
- Built-in keyboard shortcuts are now consistent with the Windows version (e.g.
F2will finally edit a cell in Excel and
F4will finally put
$s in formulas)
- A more stripped down VBA editor makes doing any kind of serious macro editing difficult to impossible. Microsoft now recommends developing all macros in the Windows version of Office, but they seem to be hinting that a more web-based solution for macro development is coming.
- No ability to create custom keyboard shortcuts of any kind (big bummer)
- No ability to customize the quick access toolbar (the improved ribbon layout makes this less of a con)
- No ability to buy the thing outright (yet)—you can only subscribe for $6.99/month through Office 365. Supposedly a one-time purchase price is coming in September 2015.
- Super talkative to Microsoft's servers. I've never seen an application try to hit so many URLs through so many ports via Little Snitch. This seems consistent with Microsoft's apparent know-everything-the-user-is-doing in Windows 10. Office 2016 is essentially a giant wants-to-be-connected web app that runs locally on your Mac.
- Speaking of giant, it really is. Office 2016 consumes over 6 GB of space in my Applications folder, wherease Office 2011 took up a little over 1 GB.
In summary, Office 2016 for Mac feels like a significant visual update, which makes the experience of using it more consistent with other Mac applications—significantly more so than previous versions of Office for Mac. If you aren't a power user of VBA, macros, etc., it's probably a sensible upgrade. If you don't want Office 2016 to be in constant communication with Redmond, install Little Snitch.