Microsoft Commits to Office for Mac

Microsoft said Tuesday that it is committed to shipping the newest version of Office for Mac OS X, however still up in the air is a release date: the company only said it would be available "in the second half of 2007."

Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac would be the first version of the productivity suite that willbe a Universal Binary, compatible with both the PowerPC and Intel platforms. Enhancements planned include support for Microsoft's Open XML document format, as well as improvements based on "extensive customer research."

"Office 2008 is, by far, the most comprehensive, Mac-complementary productivity suite we've developed to date," Mac BU general manager Roz Ho said in a statement.

"I've witnessed firsthand the progression of this product, and am excited to think about the possibilities that soon will be available to our customers when Office 2008 launches later this year," she continued.

To make the Windows and Mac OS versions of Office more similar, each share the same graphics engine. Mac Office would also gain a new user interface that would work similarly to the new "Ribbon" UI that has been introduced in Office 2007 for Windows.

Like in previous Office for Mac versions, the software would include Mac-first and Mac-only features that would give the software a more Mac-like feel.

A Publishing Layout View would allow the user to create layout-rich documents through the use of tools and text box entry. Excel would gain Ledger Sheets, which would simplify the use of the software for basic tasks like balancing checkbooks or tracking accounts.

Finally, a separate application known as "My Day" would allow for the user to view scheduling and task viewing without the need to open up the Entourage application.

Since Office 2008 for Mac would come out several months after its Windows counterpart, the Mac BU has committed to deliver converters for users of the current version the productivity suite. This would allow users to read and write in the Open XML format.

Six to eight weeks following the release of the final version of Office for Mac, Microsoft would release the final versions of the converters.

"For more than two decades, Microsoft has been committed to delivering quality and innovation on the Macintosh platform while retaining unparalleled compatibility with PCs," Ho said.

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