Microsoft detailed back in June that it was working with Apple to ensure that the Microsoft 365 and Office Apps would work on new Macs with Apple's ARM-based custom silicon. However, the company recently followed up to publish a new support article detailing how exactly the programs would work if you end up buying an Apple M1-powered MacBook, or Mac Mini come later this month. Here's what you need to know.
According to Microsoft, all the latest releases of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneNote, and OneDrive (as well as add-ins) can be installed just fine on Mac devices that feature the Apple M1 silicon. It is, though, recommended to install the November 2020 release (build 16.43), or later. The reason why is that this release comes with the optimizations for macOS Big Sur, which supports the Apple M1.
Anyway, with Mac devices featuring the M1 silicon, Office and the Microsoft 365 apps will run using Apple's Rosetta 2 technology. Because this is through emulation, no action is required on your end to get things working right. There are also no differences compared to running Office on an Intel-based Mac, but there is one big performance consideration.
Microsoft notes that on M1 Macs, the first launch of each Office app will take longer. This is because of the underlying Rosetta 2 layer in macOS which needs to launch and generate code for the M1 processor.
Indeed, this is just one small inconvenience if you end up buying a MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, or Mac Mini with Apple's M1 processor. But be aware that Office will work just fine. Microsoft even says it is working to natively support both Apple Silicon and Intel chipsets within the same executable (installer) file in the future.
11/13/2020 3:09 PM PT Update: We've updated our post to clarify a change in Microsoft's support page. Microsoft recently updated the information on the page around the possible launch delays that may occur when opening an Office app under the Rosetta 2 translation for the first time. The company says that it updated the language of this support page, as it has not yet confirmed exact speeds on production hardware.