Office for Mac now shares a codebase with Windows, gets real-time collaboration

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Microsoft has released a major Office update for Mac. Update 16.9.0 finally brings long-anticipated real-time collaboration features and automatic cloud saving. Notably, the Mac version of this software is now built from the same codebase as the Windows version, which means that Office shares a codebase across all platforms for the first time in 20 years.

The Mac version of Office has often lagged behind Windows in features (some periods have been better than others). But this change could lay the groundwork for better parity moving forward. A shared codebase doesn't necessarily mean everything will be the same, but it does mean that supporting all platforms (Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android) will be simpler on Microsoft's end.

Real-time collaboration is long overdue in Office for Mac. Users have been calling for it for quite some time. A major selling point of Google Docs and several other Office alternatives, it's been a slow rollout for this feature in Office regardless of platform. Limited live collaboration was part of the Office 2016 update, but Excel for Windows, for example, didn't get true real-time collaboration until a beta last year.

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