New Office For Mac Finally Sees Daylight

Users tired of waiting for Office 2008 for Mac can finally buy the package Microsoft officials announced Tuesday at Macworld Expo in San Francisco.

Originally slated for shipment in the second half of 2007, the company delayed its release in early August, saying it had wanted to ensure the product’s quality was up to snuff.

When Microsoft officials announced the delay, they set a new schedule that targeted the suite’s final ship date as today’s Macworld Expo.

They made it. However, even with the extra time allotted to complete the work, it wasn’t easy meeting the new deadline.

“Office 2008 is the product of four years of our lives: many months of take-out dinners and delayed vacations, too much time away from family and friends, endless fire drills and triage meetings, and the occasional break for Nerf gun fights and 1336 sticky notes,” wrote Craig Eisler, general manager of the Mac business unit (Mac BU), on Microsoft’s Mac Mojo blog.

The release provides Mac users with the new graphics engine that was introduced in Office 2007 for Windows last year. Office 2008 for Mac also features an updated user interface, similar to Office 2007’s Ribbon UI, named the Elements Gallery.

The package also adds features that will be on the Mac first, as well as some that will only be available on the Mac edition. One example is a publishing layout view that provides layout capabilities for newsletters, fliers and brochures. A ledger sheets capability also provides pre-built worksheets for common home and small business financial functions.

Office 2008 for Mac also supports Microsoft’s controversial Office Open XML file formats, though the older binary formats — .DOC, .XLS, and .PPT files — are also supported.

The suite runs on both Intel and Power PC-based Macs.

Additionally, Microsoft said the suite offers a new stand-alone application, My Day. The product “allows users to track professional and personal priorities to stay on top of daily activities regardless of which application they are working in,” according to a statement.

The new suite package is available in stores now, with volume licensing for corporate customers scheduled to begin Feb. 1.

Microsoft offers three editions of the new Office suite. The core suite, which lists at $399.95, provides Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Entourage along with Microsoft Exchange Server support and Automator tools.

Customers with any previous version of Office for Mac can get the new release at a discounted cost of $239.95.

Meanwhile, the home and student edition costs $149.95, comes with three licenses, and provides Word, Excel, PowerPoint and a non-Exchange Server-enabled version of Entourage.

Meanwhile, a Special Media Edition includes Microsoft’s Expression Media digital asset management system as well as Exchange Server support and Automator tools. The retail price is $499.95, or $299.95 for the upgrade, the company said.

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