MS Office 2013 on 2014 13" MBA?

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by kfmfe04, Sep 13, 2014.

  1. kfmfe04 macrumors member

    Jun 19, 2010
    I have a friend who is transitioning from Windows to OSX - she's a heavy MS Office 2013 user.

    Her biggest fear is that the files generated will not be compatible with the rest of her office's Win8 Office 2013 files, so I am recommending that she try to run the Windows MS Office 2013 version on a Mac.

    She currently prefers a 2014 13" MBA over a rMBP for portability.

    1. How well does Outlook, Excel, and Word run on a 2014 13" mba? I mean in terms of speed. In particular, I'm wondering if 4GB is sufficient.

    2. Is Parallels sufficient or is Bootcamp necessary?

    3. Any problems or issues with file compatibility if she runs the Windows version of MS Office 2013?
  2. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    If your friend will be running office and windows via virtualization, then I suggest 8GB of ram, 4 for windows and 4 for OS X.

    If she's going to be using windows/office most of the time then I recommend she just boots straight into windows via bootcamp.

    Office will run fine on the MBA, I prefer using office 2013 in windows over the OS X version, which is inferior in terms of performance and features.

    I use a mixture Vmware Fusion and bootcamp, Vmware for those times I want both OS X and Windows running and bootcamp for those times I'll be in windows. I like Vmware Fusion better because I think its more stable and has less problems.
  3. BobertKennedy macrumors member


    May 3, 2014
    Unless you have a very specific need to run Windows natively, I don't recommend using Bootcamp. It's best to run Windows in a virtual machine for security and stability reasons - you can still access OS X while running windows in a virtual machine via virtual networking. Both Parallels and VMWare offer the ability to take snapshots of the operating system, so if there is problem (virus, security, etc.), you can roll back to a prior state. For this reason, Windows (MS Office files) files should be stored on the Mac, not in the virtual machine. In terms of virtualization software, there is not much of a difference between Parallels and VMWare, although VMWare gives slightly better performance. If the user is not concerned with how well a virtualization platform integrates into OS X and is more concerned with price, consider using Virtual Box (, available for free. When setting up your virtual machine, start off with an initial allocation of 1 CPU and 2GB RAM Windows installation - you can always adjust later. In terms of Excel running in a virtual machine, you'll find that it runs better in Windows than the version build for OS X (Excel 2011).
  4. kfmfe04 thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 19, 2010
    Thx for the reply.

    Have you successfully run Office 2013 in VMWare Fusion on a 4GB setup?

    I've never used Fusion, but I do use Virtualbox (Ubuntu) on OSX daily. I suppose you need a copy of Windows 8 to run in Fusion, after which I assume you should have a clean run of Office. From your post, I see that this should work on a 8GB 13" rmbp, but I wonder if it's viable on a 4GB mba.


    Thanks for your reply. I've personally used VBox for years running Ubuntu - it's absolutely rock-solid on my 2009 13" mbp with 8GB of RAM.

    What I'm wondering now is, can I run, say, Office 2013 in Windows 8 in Virtualbox on a 4GB mba without swapping due to insufficient memory.

    AFAIK, I think Office 2013 should work fine in Windows 8 inside virtualbox on a 8GB rmbp, but on a 4GB mba, I have no idea.

    FWIW, my friend uses Office 90% of the time, but is not particularly a power-user. She just needs to ensure that the files she creates/edits are useable on her co-worker's windoze machines. Apparently, her Mac coworkers have previously created Word files that have lost formatting when moved over to windoze machines.
  5. kfmfe04 thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 19, 2010
    Maybe I should also ask about the worst case scenario:

    Would Office 2013 work within a Bootcamp'ed Windows 8 2014 mba 13" with 4GB of RAM?

    Has anyone gotten this to work?
  6. hallux, Sep 13, 2014
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2014

    hallux macrumors 68030


    Apr 25, 2012
  7. Traverse macrumors 604


    Mar 11, 2013
    It IS possible to run Windows via VMWare with only 4GB of RAM, but it isn't a pleasant experience. Mavericks helped this a lot with memory compression, but your system will still run out of RAM and bog down. I wouldn't take anything less than 8 GB if I want to run Windows and OS X together.

    I use Windows 8.1 for Office (Excel, Access) and certain statistics software.
  8. skaertus macrumors 68030


    Feb 23, 2009
    Yes, it will run. However, Boot Camp provides a less-than-optimal experience. Trust me. I do have a 15-inch MacBook Pro with retina display, and Windows under Boot Camp is not good at all. Drivers are crappy; the trackpad is horrible under Boot Camp and it provides a very bad experience, much worse than what you get with any Windows laptop. Do you know how good the multi-touch trackpad is under OS X? Well, it is absolutely crap under Windows, no kidding. Use a mouse instead, as the trackpad is nearly useless.

    If you have to run Windows under the Mac, you should use a virtual machine. But then you should get more than 4 GB. I have 8 GB RAM and I still run into some issues; if I could go back in time, I would buy a Mac with 16 GB of memory instead. But 4 GB only? I don't think so. You should have at least 8 GB and 256 GB SSD. Minimum. To store and run two operating systems at once takes a lot. It is more expensive, but it is the way it should be. If your friend really relies on Office 2013, then she should not think of buying less than that.

    But, again, if she is so dependant on Office 2013, why is she buying a Mac? Why doesn't she stay with a Windows machine? There are great Windows laptops out there, and some of them are comparable to Macs. And she will not run into problems with drivers, and the trackpad will run seamlessly. And the laptop may even have a touchscreen.

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