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Microsoft Office turns 30: Why it landed on Mac before Windows



Image: WinworldPC

Thirty years ago today (August 1, 1989), Microsoft Office was born, with Word, Excel and PowerPoint becoming available as a package. However, bundles of apps did not debut on Windows. No, the Microsoft Office suite was first available on Apple Macs.

Probably no product has become as synonymous with Windows as Office, but it was on the Mac where the service was born. It is worth noting that when Word, Excel and PowerPoint were originally made available in the early 1980s, they were not bundled into a suite. Office, as it should be, was actually not the name of the suite when it arrived on Mac in 1989.

Microsoft debuted the Office brand a year later in October 1990, and it was available on Windows 3.0.

Bill Gates accelerated Office applications to debut on Mac OS instead of Windows because Apple's platform allowed easier experimentation. At that time, the Windows ecosystem was more restrictive. In fact, in an internally leaked email, Gates said:

Bill Gates allowed Office apps to be bundled for the first time on Mac

“Mac Office is so much less critical to our business than Windows, we have the flexibility to test out new things in the product and in the marketing before we try them on Windows … I personally also found the Mac market interesting because I've seen so many trends emerge there first and eventually become important on Windows. "

By partnering with Apple on the release of Office apps on the Mac, Microsoft entered into a win-win situation for both companies. At that time, Mac was the dominant development platform, so it was the logical place to expand the apps. However, far from serving as a beta test base, Mac OS helped Microsoft gain more credibility in business. For its part, Apple was able to push the Mac as more than just a toy and start selling it as a legitimate tool in the corporate market.

Nobody denies that Mac used to be the leading desktop platform, at least among the corporate customers who want to buy Office. Clearly, the package was not a front-end package from the consumer when it cost a cool $ 850 dollar. Adjusted for inflation which today will be around $ 1,750. Take it, all of you who are looking forward to buying Office in 2019.

Those were the days when Microsoft and Apple actively developed the market together. For example, Microsoft became the first Mac developer (yes, the company was known as a Mac dev at that time) that released applications on CD-ROM. You guessed it, these applications were Word, Excel, Mail and PowerPoint.

Microsoft Office – The Evolution

Since its first release thirty years ago, Microsoft Office has come a long way. To begin with, from being a set of apps that try to ask for business users, Office is now a basic tool for millions of organizations around the world.

Over the thirty years it has existed, Microsoft Office has been through 16 major versions. , everything from Office 1.0 to Office 16.0:

Microsoft Office 1.0 November 1990
Microsoft Office 3.0 August 1992
Microsoft Office 4.0 January 1994
Microsoft Office 95 (7.0 ) August 1995
Microsoft Office 97 (8.0) November 1996
Microsoft Office 2000 (9.0) June 1999
Microsoft Office XP (10.0) May 2001 [19659016] Microsoft Office 2003 (11.0) November 2003
Microsoft Office 2007 (12.0) January 2007
Microsoft Office 2010 (14.0) June 2010
Microsoft Office 2013 (15.0) [19659015] January 2013
Microsoft Office 2016 (16.0) September 2015

Office h that not only becomes synonymous with Windows; it has also become synonymous with automated enterprise productivity everywhere. More than any competitor, the Office de facto suite for businesses is recognized as the most complete productivity suite. So much so that modern Office versions run on over a billion devices around the world.

A 2017 study from Spiceworks highlighted how dominant Office is in the workplace.

Still, it feels like Microsoft has a lot more room to expand the suite. The company already used the core of the Office idea by launching Microsoft Office 365 in 2011, which transformed the service by making it available on the cloud and as a subscription.

Microsoft Office 30 Anniversary Highlights Differences Between Then and Now

When Microsoft Office launched in 1990, a year after its apps debuted on Mac OS, installing the package was a tiring process. Of course, installing almost anything these days was a hassle, but Microsoft Office was particularly annoying. That's because version 1 of Windows utilized a graphical installer to install the package and then separate installs through a DOS-based interface for each program.

Users then needed some knowledge of commands that would put apps on files on a disk. For example, Microsoft Word would install files in C: while Excel needs a user-created path and file. Despite the fact that Office was sold as a single package, the apps at that time were very individual and fragmented.

Word 4.0 as it looked in Office 1.0

In contract is to install Office in 2019. There are several portals for downloading the suite (browser, individual apps, on mobiles) that only require a few clicks for to get the applications on the device you want.

This leads to accessibility on a wider range of platforms and devices. Of course, back in 1990, Microsoft was limited in the extent to which it could spread the suite, since technology only allowed for certain devices. These days, Microsoft Office is available on smartphones, PCs, tablets and other devices while also working across platforms (Windows, Mac, iOS, Android and more).

Furthermore, the suite is now integrated across these services. I am currently writing this article on Microsoft Word on a Windows PC. I could stop my writing now, head to the coffee shop and finish this piece on the Android smartphone while sipping a latte. It's hard to believe that Microsoft ever imagined that Office would become such a dynamic platform.

Word as it appears in Office 365 in 2019.

Ease of use has become a big part of Office, as it has most applications that search a broad user base. . This was less of a problem back in the early days of the service as most computer programs were relatively complicated and designed mostly for a chosen corporate base. While I personally feel nostalgic thinking about the drop-down menus and tasks of old Office, Microsoft took a big step toward greater usability with the introduction of a user interface called the tape.

Debuting with Office 2007, the tape provided faster access to features, providing tools for less experienced users to harness more power from the suite. That's just as good as Microsoft Office now supports over 1600 separate commands.

30 Years Young

So Microsoft Office may be entering its third decade today, but updates and support mean that the suite remains as necessary for organizations as it did in 1989 when Word, Excel and PowerPoint landed on Mac. In fact, the suite is now more basic than it has ever been, with students and general users also relying on their apps and tools on a daily basis.


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