Microsoft Office On Its Way for Mac Users

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Mac users concerned about a lack of compatibility with the Windows Vista users at the office can stop worrying. Microsoft recently announced that Office for Mac 2008, its productivity suite for Macintosh computers, will be released during the second half of 2007.

The software suite contains updates to Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Entourage and it will feature full support for Microsoft’s new Office Open XML file format, which is the format native to Windows Vista’s Office 2007. Microsoft conducted extensive customer research to determine which enhancements needed to be made to help Mac users better manage the business of life.

During Macworld, Microsoft officials also announced plans to release file format converters that will allow the current version of the suite, Office for Mac 2004, to open, edit and save Office Open XML files. "Beta converters for Office 2004 will be available in the Spring," said Eric Wilfrid, product unit manager for Microsoft’s Mac Business Unit. "Final versions will arrive about 6 weeks after Office for Mac 2008 ships."

The new version of Office for Mac will be a universal binary application. It will run on both the new Intel-based Macs and older PowerPC Mac hardware. Other new features include:

  • Elements Gallery – helps features surface that were previously buried like the Mac-only ones.
  • Document Parts – a set of templates that support themes and styles.
  • Publishing Layout View – for richly designed documents like newsletters
  • Ledger Sheets – a tool to enhance Excel spreadsheets
  • My Day – a stand-alone application that lets users view schedules and tasks without launching Entourage.

While the two versions of Office will share many features, the user interface design will remain unique to each respective platform. At this time there is no word on pricing for Office for Mac 2008, but expect it to be pricey considering the most recent version of Microsoft Office for Mac 2004 costs around $400.

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