What's that coming over the hill? Is it native Office? Microsoft's flagship arrives on Apple Silicon, but you'll have to wait for Teams

From preview to release

Microsoft is rolling out native Apple silicon versions of its office apps while browser maker Mozilla does the same with its Firefox browser.

A Universal build of Microsoft's cash cow Office suite seeped out in preview form back in November. Those who have acquired Apple hardware based on the company's M1 silicon can now get their hands on the finished product, at least as far as the core apps are concerned. Teams, alas, must be run in Rosetta emulation mode for the time being.

The team has also given Outlook for Mac a buffing to match the look (if not some of the iffier bits) of macOS Big Sur. The "Office Start experience" has also been updated, this time with the Fluent UI design system, although won't turn up until next month.

The rest of the core apps should be slithering down via Microsoft's AutoUpdate or via the Mac App Store. Alternatively, users can force the matter via a "Check for Updates" in the app's Help menu.

Users of Microsoft's own Arm-based hardware, the Surface Pro X, who are still waiting for their native version, might look on enviously at the Windows giant's keenness to get its wares on Apple's new platform.

But as Microsoft has said: "We are committed to delivering great Microsoft 365 experiences that help our customers work easier and faster on their favorite devices."

We fear that there are only a committed few that would describe the Surface Pro X as their "favourite device", x64 emulation preview or not. Still, at least it has a native version of Teams.

Office was joined by version 84.0 of Firefox, which also included native support for Apple's new chips. Mozilla described the performance boost from dropping emulation as "dramatic", reckoning users will see the venerable browser launching 2.5 times faster along with a similar improvement in web app responsiveness.

However, it is a circular world, and there was a final farewell from Mozilla to an old friend. Version 84 was confirmed as the last release that would support Adobe Flash. No flowers. ®

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