For some reason, Microsoft's Office suite is behind the times in terms of installation recommendations. For years, the productivity suite has installed 32-bit versions by default. That's archaic considering 64-bit options have been available for a long time. Finally, Microsoft is changing this situation and 64-bit is becoming the default with the launch of Office 2019.
Default is the important word here. Microsoft will continue to offer 32-bit versions of Office apps, but they won't be recommended. This makes sense. It has been interesting to see even modern installations of Office install the 32-bit apps by default, with 64-bit as an added option.
The company made the announcement at Ignite 2018, where Office 2019 was moved to general availability. Not only will the suite be 64-bit by default, but the cloud service Office 365 will follow suit.
Over on Mac, users can be forgiven for thinking what all the fuss is about. All Macs use 64-bit and have done for years, so this news is strictly for Office users on Microsoft's own Windows platform.
It is worth noting that this is specifically for new installations of the suite. In other words, any current installations downloaded as 32-bit defaults will not be upgraded to 64-bit.
Microsoft is not even helping these users out as there is no easy path to moving from 32-bit to 64-bit. The three options are in the upgrade process (renewing an Office 365 license or upgrading to Office 2019), or simply deleting Office and doing a new full product install.
At Ignite yesterday, Microsoft revealed Office 2019 is moving to general availability. The latest version of the suite is arriving on Windows and Mac computers simultaneously.
Availability of Office 2019 is currently limited to commercial volume license customers, those who buy Office in bulk for cross-organization deployment. Microsoft says consumer and commercial users will receive the latest release in the next few weeks.