It’s been interesting being a Mac user over the last couple of years. We’ve gone from being very much left behind compared to our fellow Windows users to pretty much feature parity. Well that’s what the marketeers would have us believe, in reality my experience is very different.
Yes we’ve got more functionality than we have ever had but while the new Microsoft is moving at a breakneck pace in the Office and Office 365 arena, we starting to get left behind again. This post describes the woes I have at this present moment with the various Microsoft apps that I use on my Mac. You might have your own problems and I’d be interested to hear about these.
Just to balance this out I will also give the pros from my point of view, over what we had before, just so the post isn’t all negative. This isn’t a review of the products though, I don’t use any of them enough to be an expert or give an expert opinion on all the features.
Firstly to set the scene, I’m using Office 2016 installed from my Office 365 subscription on my late 2015 Macbook Pro armed with a core i7, 16GB RAM and 500GB SSD.
Outlook 2016/Office 2016
First up Office, or Primarily Outlook 2016
- Add-ins: These are a great addition. I use Trello on a daily basis to bump my emails into my boards for further action. The same add-in also allows me to do this from Outlook on my phone without me having to install it specifically on there.
Hmm that’s about it, it handles my Office 365 and Outlook.com accounts fine.
- Schedule Skype for Business meeting: Not sure where the blame lies for this but I simple cannot find a way to add a meeting to Outlook and make this an online meeting. In Outlook on Windows, you have a Skype Meeting button which adds all the connection details to it. There is no such button in Outlook on my Mac.
Update: I found a post on the Skype feedback forums that this feature has been added but from reading the comments it appears you have to have Lync installed too. Crazy!!
- No ability to add files from SharePoint/OneDrive: The other Office applications allow you to open files from SharePoint and OneDrive but Outlook doesn’t give you the option yet, thought it is planned as of March 2017. This also isn’t great when you are trying to encourage customers not to sync every SharePoint folder in the organisation so they can keep working ‘like they used to’
Skype for Business
At he moment for me, this is pretty much unusable for me. Most (all) of my contacts are external to my tenant and I’ve had success in adding one from another tenant but that’s it.
- Join a meeting. I can join a Skype meeting hosting by someone else.
- Hosting a meeting: I can start a new meeting…
- Add a contact: This is greyed out for me so I have no way of doing that.
- Hosting a meeting: This was a pro right? Yes but in a meeting, I cannot invite anyone else who is not an Office 365 user or in my tenant. I tried with a colleague who has a Hotmail address and we both expected him to receive an invite so he could join via Skype on the web. He didn’t get the invite.
- Schedule a meeting: Skype for Business very proudly shows my Exchange calendar but I can’t actually do anything with it.
In fairness to Microsoft, this has got better since it’s first release if you can believe that.
This is probably the application that has had the most fanfare over the last 12 months and has come along way over the previous versions but it’s falling behind again.
- Multiple accounts: No longer do I have to install two OneDrive applications; one for my OneDrive for Business and another for OneDrive personal. I can login to both from one app.
- Shared folders: This is a great addition, I can now select a folder that is shared with me and sync that down.
- No Files-on-Demand: This is one of the new additions to OneDrive on windows that’s been left out of Mac, for now hopefully. In fact, this used to exist on Windows 8 or 8.1 then they took it out. Basically this allows you to in effect have placeholders for files on your file system so they take up very little space. When you try and access the file it will download it and you can carry on as normal. Dropbox has this with SmartSync so it obviously can be done
- Install on an external drive: The latest Macbook Pros offer no way to to update the internal SSD, which isn’t MS’s fault I know but.. There are micro usb drives or micro SD adapters that sit flush with the casing, these are great ways of bumping files storage but OneDrive won’t let you store your files on here.
- No pause: It would be nice to be able to pause syncing for a while, while tethering to a phone for example. Currently I use TripMode to deny access whilst connected to my phone. That works great but would be nice to have an out-of-the-box experience for it, especially if it offered scheduled sync times.
The lack of the first two options above has led me to have to turn off sync for certain folders, and this list is growing. At some point it won’t actually be worth me using OneDrive as I won’t have any space to sync anything down.
The first two OneDrive cons I have listed have suggestions on UserVoice, please vote if you would like to see these added to future versions.
Just to put a bit of context to the pros and cons for OneDrive above. This is primarily for my personal account (outlook.com), not business. These are not files that have metadata attached to them. They’re my personal photos, videos and documents. I’ve spent years preaching about the benefits of metadata to customers and this isn’t me not practising what I preach. I do that on my business files, on my personal stuff I don’t have the will (or time) to go back through files built up over the years.
I don’t think it’s acceptable to have to install another (legacy) application (Lync) to get some of this functionality working, in fact Microsoft don’t support them running side by side so it seems people may have got them working more out of luck than anything else. We’re more than half way through 2017, Skype for Business has been GA for nearly 9 months now, it’s to get this working properly.
Don’t get me wrong Microsoft are doing some great things, especially in the spaces that I work but it would be nice for them to stop and have a look around once in a while, tidying up after themselves before moving on.
I’d like to hear of your issues or more so if there are ways to get some of the things above working. Or maybe I’m just doing some things wrong.