Microsoft test-drives Office 2008 for Mac

2 Apr 2007

Microsoft has delivered on its promise to bring Office for the Mac up to date and compatible with the Windows versions, as first announced at the Macworld conference in January.

Private beta testing of Office 2008 for the Mac was officially announced last week by the Mac Business Unit (BU), along with details of what the product has to offer the Mac user.

This will be the first version of Office for Mac with the ability to run natively on both PowerPC and Intel-based systems.

Office 2008 for Mac will share several of the new features included in Office 2007. The graphical user interface will be different: a feature known as the ribbon will replace the menu buttons and will allow users fast access to tools and options they want.

There are also Mac-only features, aimed at giving the Office user an overall Mac OS feel when using the application. For example, My Day is a stand-alone organiser that will allow users to track their schedule and plans while working in other applications.

Also Mac specific will be Publishing Layout View, for producing pamphlets and fliers, and Ledger Sheets, a money management application for home and small business users.

“Office 2008 is by far the most comprehensive, Mac-complementary productivity suite we’ve developed to date,” said Roz Ho, general manager of the Mac BU at Microsoft.

The present version of Office for the Mac, Office 2004, lacks full file compatibility with Office 2007 for Windows. However, Office 2008 will use Office Open XML Formats, a new format claimed by Microsoft to be open source and backwards compatible.

Currently, this format is not compatible for Office 2004 for Mac users. Files must be saved in the old Office binary format until the Mac BU releases a file converter.

Mac Mojo. the official Microsoft Office for Mac blog has promised these converters sometime in late March or early April.

The official release date for Office 2008 for Mac is set for sometime in the second half of 2007. As of yet Microsoft has not released any pricing information.

By Marie Boran