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Mac Gains New Outlook With Latest Microsoft Office

By Mike Pearson MacNewsWorld ECT News Network
Oct 26, 2010 2:04 PM PT

Microsoft has come out with its latest edition of Office for Mac, ditching the old Entourage e-mail and calendaring client in exchange for an Apple version of Outlook.

Mac Gains New Outlook With Latest Microsoft Office

Office for Mac 2011 replaces the 2008 edition with better cross-platform compatibility, speed and performance improvements, as well as the debut of the controversial "Ribbon" menu which has been a part of the Windows version since 2007.

"In short, it's probably the closest Microsoft has ever come to parity between Office for Mac and Office for Windows," said Wes Miller, an analyst with Directions on Microsoft.

Two Versions

The package comes in two versions: a Home and Business suite with Word, PowerPoint, Excel and Outlook, plus one year of technical support, for US$279.95, or a Home and Student version that omits the Outlook and cuts tech support to 90 days for $149.99.

It's notable that the Home and Student version does not include the email and calendaring client, which was included in previous versions. There's no Access database offering in Office for Mac.

Both versions include access to the Windows Live SkyDrive and Office Web Apps that debuted with Microsoft Office 2010 for Windows.

This version also includes Visual Basic support for automation scripting, which had been cut out of the 2007 version, much to the chagrin of many Office for Mac users.

Collaboration Tools

The Mac version also includes updated collaboration tools that allow Office for Mac users to share and simultaneously edit documents with other users, even those on PCs. It also features better compatibility between Mac and PC platforms, meaning less concern that documents will be difficult to read or lose formatting when opened on the other OS, Miller said.

"The performance is also improved at both application start and document load time," Miller said.

That's a product of the primary focus for the Office for Mac team -- responding to customer requests for better performance, product general manager Eric Wilfrid wrote on the Office for Mac blog Tuesday.

The Ribbon

While the Ribbon interface has vexed some Windows users, it has improved since the initial version, Miller said.

"The Ribbon in Office 2011 works similarly to the Office for Windows version, but still has a Mac-like feel to it, and uses the original Mac menu bars," he said.

About three quarters of all Mac users have Office installed on their computers, according to Microsoft.

One caveat for Mac users: This version will not work with PowerPCs, so don't upgrade unless you have an Intel-based Mac from 2006 on.

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