Apple is upping the ante against Microsoft with its first ARM-based MacBooks powered by the M1 chip. Microsoft has been selling ARM laptops for some time under its Surface branding, but Apple is finally taking that route to show what it is capable of to rock the PC market. But while all of these ambitions Apple has on its wish list, it’s also taking some help from Microsoft to achieve them.
For ARM-based computers, apps must support that architecture, which is fundamentally different from their x86-based (or x64) architecture that Intel chipsets have supported on Apple MacBooks so far. This means that app developers need to modify their apps so that they are able to use the power of the ARM-based processor. Microsoft is doing the same for its Office apps for Mac.
Microsoft is releasing a beta version of the software for its Office 2019 to make it compatible with the ARM-based MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, and Mac mini that will soon be available in the markets. While this is a beta build, the software update will culminate in an even faster set of Office apps that newer MacBooks will use to achieve better productivity than its Intel-based counterparts offer. This will ultimately lead Apple to make headway in the PC world, including in its correspondence with Microsoft regarding ARM-based processors.
Programs designed to run natively on new ARM-based processors are called “Universal Apps”. Microsoft engineer Erik Schwiebert has confirmed that the Universal build for Office 2019 will arrive “by the end of today,” which is November 12. Although Schwiebert does not have a release date for the public version of the Office 2019 Universal build.
This also doesn’t mean that Microsoft is somehow undermining its ARM-based laptops. Its Surface laptops are among the highest performing laptops you can buy. It’s just that Microsoft doesn’t want to be childish about the compatibility of the most popular apps that almost all PC or Mac users rely on for documentation and presentation, among others.
Microsoft has long offered Office apps for Surface laptops. But for Mac, it offered regular Intel-based apps. The move to the ARM-based system will benefit Microsoft in terms of the learning it can gather to use later to improve these apps for its Surface line. Not that this is particularly defined, but Microsoft has that opportunity with the new Office apps for Mac that can turn in its favor.
Microsoft provides that set of software to the new ARM-based MacBooks that Apple is betting enormously on.
- Apple launched new ARM-based MacBooks earlier this week.
- ARM-based MacBooks will need universal apps to support the architecture.
- Microsoft will release the universal build for Office apps today.