As planned, the Redmond, Wash., software maker is releasing its Mac productivity suite in the third week of this month, following its unveiling in January during the Macworld Conference & Expo. While the standard and the student and teacher editions will be available Wednesday, Microsoft has slowed the release of the professional edition of the suite.
Thats because, as previously reported, Microsoft hit a snag in releasing Virtual PC for Mac Version 7, its Windows emulation software that is included in the professional edition. Virtual PC 7 and the Office professional edition should be ready in the fall, said Mary Starman, lead product manager in Microsofts Mac Business Unit.
Virtual PC 7 is the first release of the software since Microsoft acquired it last year from Connectix Corp. The later release schedule is the result of the need to do a thorough security audit of the software and delays in Windows XP Service Pack 2, Starman said.
Office 2004 for Mac is Microsofts second Mac OS X-native Office version, following the release of Office v. X for Mac in 2001. The suite includes Word 2004 for word processing; Excel 2004 for spreadsheets; PowerPoint 2004 for presentations; Entourage 2004 for e-mail, contacts and calendaring; and MSN Messenger Version 4.0 for instant messaging.
In the new release, Microsoft has added a feature called Project Center for managing files, e-mails, meetings and tasks associated with a particular project and for sharing project information with others. It also is providing new compatibility reports to pinpoint possible compatibility problems when sharing files between Mac and Windows platforms and with older Office versions.
Other features range from an enhanced Scrapbook for storing commonly used text and images in Office documents and a page layout view in Excel that previews a printed document.