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Microsoft this morning released a new version of its Outlook for Mac email client with improvements in the user interface and under-the-hood performance.

Here are the new features, as outlined by the company this morning.

  • Better performance and reliability as a result of a new threading model and database improvements.
  • A new modern user interface with improved scrolling and agility when switching between Ribbon tabs.
  • Online archive support for searching Exchange (online or on-premises) archived mail.
  • Master Category List support and enhancements delivering access to category lists (name and color) and sync between Mac, Windows and OWA clients.
  • Office 365 push email support for real-time email delivery.
  • Faster first-run and email download experience with improved Exchange Web Services syncing.

01-Mail-All-Retina-1024x674 Microsoft also announced plans to release a new version of Office for Mac — including Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote — next year.

“In the first half of 2015 we will release a public beta for the next version of Office for Mac, and in the second half of 2015 we will make the final release available,” according to a blog post by the Office 365 team. “Office 365 commercial and consumer subscribers will get the next version at no additional cost, and we will release a perpetual license of Office for Mac in the same timeframe.”

Office for Mac was historically a critical set of programs for Mac users, particularly those who needed to work with colleagues using Windows PCs. That dependence has been reduced in recent years by the rise of cloud-based productivity suites compatible with Microsoft Office documents.

Tech historians will recognize this as a continuation, at least in spirit, of Microsoft’s landmark 1997 commitment to continue making Office for Mac for five years. That deal, which included a then-critical $150 million investment by Microsoft in Apple, has long since ended.

These days Apple is in a much greater position of power in the all-important markets for smartphones and tablets, and Microsoft on its own is making Office for a variety of platforms, including Android tablets (coming soon) and iPad.

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