Excel prepares for Apple Silicon Macs with new Office preview build

Office for Mac
Office for Mac (Image credit: Microsoft)

What you need to know

  • A new Office for Mac Insider update lays the groundwork for Apple Silicon Mac support.
  • The update on the Slow ring adds SQL ODBC support for Apple ARM in Excel.
  • There are also a couple of new features for both Excel and PowerPoint.

Apple has one more big event scheduled for next week, where it's largely expected to launch its new ARM-based Apple Silicon Macs. Ahead of the launch, Microsoft is readying ARM support in its Office suite with a fresh update for Slow ring Office Insiders. Notably, this update adds a couple of new features for both Excel and PowerPoint, one of which is feature support for Apple ARM chips in Excel.

The details of the ARM support are a bit on the mundane side. Microsoft says the buit-in SWL Server ODBC data connection provider now features support for both Apple Silicon devices and the TLS 1.2 communication protocol. There are a couple of more eye-catching feature updates here though, including the addition of the Watch Window in Excel and the option to present PowerPoint slideshows in a windowed experience.

Here's a look at Microsoft's release notes for this Office Insider Slow ring update:


  • Introducing the Watch Window: Keep an eye on Cells across multiple sheets and books in the convenience of a single pane or window. When cells are not in view, you can watch those cells and their formulas in the Watch Window toolbar. The Watch Window makes it convenient to inspect, audit, or confirm formula calculations and results in large worksheets. By using the Watch Window, you don't need to repeatedly scroll or go to different parts of your worksheet.
  • SQL ODBC support for Apple ARM: The built-in SQL Server ODBC data connection provider will now support the new Apple Silicon devices as well as the TLS v1.2 communication protocol. This feature provides support for SQL Server ODBC data connections to work properly on new devices that have Apple Silicon processors, as well as support for SQL Servers that require secure connections via the TLS v1.2 protocol.


  • Present your slide show in a windowed experience: Reading View lets you multitask and gives you access to other applications while you present. It lets you see and present your slide show in a windowed experience. You can use this feature for your next presentation.

After Apple initially announced its plans to transition Macs to Apple Silicon ARM chips, Microsoft was quick to announce it would support the new chips in its Office suite, so expect more changes as we draw closer to launch. For now, this update is available to Office on macOS testers enrolled in the Insider Slow ring. It's rolling out as version 16.43 (Build 20110105) now.

Dan Thorp-Lancaster

Dan Thorp-Lancaster is the former Editor-in-Chief of Windows Central. He began working with Windows Central, Android Central, and iMore as a news writer in 2014 and is obsessed with tech of all sorts. You can follow Dan on Twitter @DthorpL and Instagram @heyitsdtl