Q I had been using Microsoft Office 2008 on my Mac Pro, but all its applications took an age to load. I then upgraded to Office 2011 in the hope that it might be better, but Word still shows a spinning beachball for almost two minutes, to begin with. Once it is all loaded, it works briskly again. Would Office 2016 be a solution, or the same problem?
A A spinning beachball for this long indicates a serious problem, and is not general experience with Office 2008, 2011, or 2016.
Whilst that beachball is spinning, your logs are almost certainly filling with error reports, and you need to study those to get a better clue as to what is going wrong. From the period which you report, it is quite probable that Word or another Office app, is trying to locate a network resource, and you are having to wait for that network request to time out before it will proceed any further.
There are a couple of known issues that could be the cause: Office applications normally try to connect to your default printer when they start up. If that printer is inaccessible, this could cause a long delay, particularly if they have to wait for a network query to time out.
The other issue is that they may need to build or rebuild the font menu; if you have an incompatible font manager, or literally thousands of fonts, that could result in a significant delay. However these and other causes, such as conflicts with other software, should be detailed in your logs.
It is also worth checking preference settings, to ensure that they do not refer to missing external or network volumes.
Updated from the original, which was first published in MacUser volume 27 issue 18, 2011.