MacBooks with M1 chips won't be left out — Microsoft 365 is now optimized for Apple Silicon

MacBook Air
(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

M1-powered MacBooks shook up the laptop industry after Apple opted to ditch Intel CPUs in favor of its own ARM-based, custom chip. According to our own MacBook Air review, the M1 chip is a performance beast, outputting impressive Geekbench 5 numbers.

However, there is one concern about the new M1-powered MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro: Are they compatible with the apps we know and love? Thanks to arch-rivals Microsoft, you can rest easy knowing Office apps are now optimized for the latest Macs.

Microsoft updates Office apps to run natively on M1-powered MacBooks

In a blog post on Tuesday, Microsoft announced that it has released a new update (build 16.44), which optimizes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and OneNote apps to run on Apple Silicon-based MacBooks.

If you're wondering if Microsoft created separate update packages for M1-powered Macs, the answer is no. "The Office installation and update packages contain the optimized code for both Apple Silicon and Intel-based devices. This is true regardless of whether you obtain Office from the Mac App Store or," Microsoft wrote.

As a result of the update, Microsoft's core flagship Office apps will reportedly run faster and take full advantage of the break-neck performance of the incredible M1 chip. According to Senior Product Marketing Manager Bill Doll, the new update will allow users to experience an uptick in productivity on Microsoft 365.

"The apps are not only speedy, but they also look fantastic as they have been redesigned to match the new look of macOS Big Sur," Doll said. Here's a glimpse of the updated Outlook app on the new 13-inch MacBook Pro.

Outlook on MacBook M1

Outlook on MacBook (Image credit: Microsoft)

Other Mac-based Microsoft updates include support for iCloud accounts in Outlook, a new "Tell Me" function that lets users quickly search for Office tools, a new dictation toolbar for creating content via voice commands, and more.

Microsoft's rollout of these refreshed apps began on Tuesday. To snag the Microsoft 365 update, navigate to the Mac App Store and check the Updates tab. 

Kimberly Gedeon

Kimberly Gedeon, holding a Master's degree in International Journalism, launched her career as a journalist for MadameNoire's business beat in 2013. She loved translating stuffy stories about the economy, personal finance and investing into digestible, easy-to-understand, entertaining stories for young women of color. During her time on the business beat, she discovered her passion for tech as she dove into articles about tech entrepreneurship, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and the latest tablets. After eight years of freelancing, dabbling in a myriad of beats, she's finally found a home at Laptop Mag that accepts her as the crypto-addicted, virtual reality-loving, investing-focused, tech-fascinated nerd she is. Woot!