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Microsoft Trots Out Office for Mac 2011

By Erika Morphy MacNewsWorld ECT News Network
Feb 12, 2010 5:00 AM PT

Microsoft has revealed details of some of the new features in its upcoming Office for Mac 2011 suite at the Macworld 2010 expo in San Francisco.

Microsoft Trots Out Office for Mac 2011

Among the highlights are new coauthoring and Web Apps tools, as well as a user interface designed to be compatible with the Windows version of Office. Microsoft also offered a few additional details about Outlook for Mac.

More expansive collaboration tools are part of the latest upgrade to Office for Mac. New coauthoring functionality, for example, will give users the ability to work on a file from Word, PowerPoint or Excel. The Presence Everywhere feature will provide real-time status updates about who is working on the document in the application.

Office 2011 also will provide a connection to Microsoft Office Web Apps, allowing users to access and share Office documents -- similar to functionality found in Microsoft Office 2010 for PC users. The Web Apps feature is currently in beta and can be used via a Windows Live ID account or Microsoft SharePoint technologies.

Familiar Interface

Also new to the Office for Mac environment will be a ribbon-based interface that combines the Mac menu with the standard toolbar. Users can collapse the ribbon and toolbar for more space. The new design provides a similar look and feel across multiple platforms -- i.e., for users who are dual-booting Mac OS X and Windows.

Microsoft also announced new developments around Outlook for Mac, the intended replacement for the Entourage email client. Outlook for Mac will import .PST files from Outlook for Windows -- a top customer request -- Microsoft said at Macworld.

Outlook for Mac is based on the Exchange Web Services protocol and uses Cocoa for better integration with the Mac OS. It also features Spotlight search and back-up support from Time Machine.

All Roads Lead to Redmond

What Microsoft is aiming for is a more seamless experience.

"Of course they are trying to make Mac Office ever more compatible and align more closely with Windows," Laura DiDio, principal of ITIC told MacNewsWorld.

That helps both Microsoft and Apple. "There are a lot of consumers starting to dual boot more and more," Didio noted. "In fact, one way Apple is moving into the enterprise is via a grass roots movement among end-users that use the Mac at home and want to use it at work as well."

Apple has been relatively passive about marketing the Mac to the enterprise, relying on its end-users to evangelize for it, she said.

Still, a productivity application that is compatible with both environments is important for Apple's enterprise goals -- and it's becoming increasingly important to Microsoft, which has been watching the same trend, said Didio.

"It is notable that they have rolled this out at Macworld, where Apple is notably absent," she remarked.

Revenue Driver

The updates in Office for Mac were about what the market expected, Scott Testa, a professor of marketing at Cabrini College, told MacNewsWorld.

Coauthoring and collaboration, in particular, are in growing demand for these sorts of applications, he said.

"Microsoft makes so much money off the Office franchise -- of course, they are going to keep up Office for Mac. It means a lot to them. Sure, the OSes get publicity, but the Office platform is what drives revenues for Microsoft."

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