Q&A: What do you think about Office:Mac 2011 being 32-bit?

Via email, I was asked:

What are your
thoughts about Office 2011 being 32 bit instead of 64 bit?

As we announced last week during WWDC, we're drinking the Cocoa and moving our world in that direction.  Moving to Cocoa is a huge undertaking.  Outlook:Mac is Cocoa, and new features in the rest of the applications are also being built in Cocoa.  Since we're not going to be all-Cocoa in Office:Mac 2011, that means that we're going to be in a 32-bit world. 

From a user experience
perspective, the difference between 32-bit and 64-bit isn't terribly
meaningful. I can't imagine what one could do to a Word document that
would benefit from running in 64-bit mode instead of 32-bit mode. That
said, there are cases where 64-bit is meaningful. For example, if you had an extremely large
Excel spreadsheet with millions of cells and lots of complex calculations,
there can be a benefit to 64-bit. You could also get there with a massive
PowerPoint presentation that mostly consists of high-resolution images, but it
would have to be on the order of thousands of those images. Moving to 64-bit is part of our future plans, and it's why we're
beginning the long transition from Carbon to Cocoa. We've got around 30
million lines of code across the suite, so that transition is anything but

From a performance
perspective, while there are performance improvements that come with 64-bit, there's still improvements to be wrung out of our 32-bit suite. With
each update to Office 2008, I've seen reports from users that it launches and runs faster.
In Office 2011, we've continued that performance work. I can't talk
a lot about it just yet, so for now I'll just say that there are some
absolutely awesome improvements that we're putting in our users' hands for
Office 2011.

In my opinion, and I say
this as someone who has a technical background but hasn't gotten down into the
deepest innards of our code, one of the main benefits of moving to 64-bit is
about future-proofing. 32-bit is going the way of the dodo, the


, and Carbon itself. The future is 64-bit. Getting there is a big technical
undertaking, and it's something that we've started working on already. For most people, they'll never notice the difference between 64-bit and 32-bit.