Microsoft 365, still unusable
The M1 hoopla prompted me to dig out my ancient MBA, update to the latest Catalina version and update Microsoft 365 to give it another spin. Here's what I ran into using Word:
1) Long documents still completely choke Voiceover. By long, I mean book-length. Navigating to the next page hangs for more than a second, and other tasks can just hang the machine indefinitely. Others have reported the same thing on here.
2) When opening the "customize keyboard" dialog, the focus doesn't move to the Window. I have to activate the window chooser to find the dialog.
3) Heading styles are navigable using the rotor, but heading styles are not reported in the text area.
4) the presence of comments are not reported in the text area. I am going to assume that other types of revisions like misspellings or track changes are likewise not reported. I didn't stick around to find out.
5) focus is still liable to jump back to the beginning if I edit a document without interacting with the text area, even though editing works just fine without interacting, so long as I don't switch to using a rotor action like moving by sentence. Pressing shift+f5 to go back to where I was previously editing works and moves the voiceover focus. "Voiceover follows keyboard focus" is selected in my settings, but doesn't appear to work as expected in Word.
Without access to Word on Mac, a Windows machine remains necessary for my work life, where things like Ulysses and Pages aren't adequate substitutes, though I use Ulysses for my personal and Web-oriented writing. And, so long as a Windows machine is necessary, everything else that works well/better under Mac OS works pretty much just as well on IOS with an external keyboard.
If others aren't encountering the above-listed issues using Word for Mac, then perhaps it's my mid-2013 MacBook Air to blame, so let me know if that's the case. Just being able to type a short document is not enough, though: usable means usable in a professional context, which means very long documents with heading styles, comments, track changes, etc. Usability in excel means announcement of column and header rows, which I've never gotten to work; and usability in PowerPoint means ability to edit slides effectively.
I don’t think this issue is no M1 based Mac devices, because I am having it on my device which is an not M1.
I encountered some of these very same problems in Catalina on a 16-in 2019 MacBook Pro. Office is still definitely better on Windows.
If you did send feedback to microsoft via the feedback form, what was their response if any? I don't have office on my mac but now that i have a subscription, I might give it a try.
I'm able to do most of this. I do agree with you on the headings, but for me that's easy enough to check with the rotor.
I can see comments as well as spelling and punctuation errors. I know in word there's a setting you have to sometimes click to show comments. I'm not sure if that's the problem you're facing or if it might be a VoiceOver setting.
You said you have a 2013 MacBook. How much RAM does it have, and could that be causing your issues with the larger documents. I will also note that I haven't gotten the busy status since updating to Big Sur.
I can see how navigating word could definitely be considered by some to be easier and smoother on window. Until recently when I decided to push myself to train with it on the Mac I would have definitely agreed. Now I think it's just different.
To the person who said Office is still easier on windows as a whole I don't disagree. Word I find to be easy to use on either device. There are a few more things you can do on windows, especially if you're a JAWS user, but I find I'm able to use all of the same native features on either OS. Outlook I find easier to use on the Mac. I hate powerpoint, and I try to avoid it on either so I can't comment on it. Excel is easier to use on windows, and I can't figure out how to open dropdown lists in cells on the Mac.