By Anne Chen  |  Posted 2004-06-07 Print this article Print

In Office 2004 for Mac, Microsoft Corp. has created an elegant suite that makes a compelling upgrade for users who chose to pass on the previous version.

Released at the end of last month, Microsoft Office 2004 for Mac is built to thrive in a PC-centric enterprise world. The suite boasts new features, including a Project Center for organizing and sharing projects and better compatibility with Microsofts Exchange in the Entourage e-mail client.

However, the lack of an internal database such as Microsofts Access, as well as the absence of Microsofts SharePoint collaboration tools, means Office 2004 for Mac still cannot compete with its PC-based sibling in most corporate environments.

eWEEK Labs installed the Standard Edition of Office 2004 for Mac (priced at $400) on a G4 desktop running Apple Computer Inc.s OS X 10.3, code-named Panther. Users will need at least OS X 10.2.8.

Apple will provide a preview of Mac OS X 10.4, code-named Tiger, at its developers conference later this month. Click here to read the full story. As with previous versions of Office for Mac, installation was a breeze. We simply dragged the disk icon from the desktop and onto the Macintosh hard drive.

Business users will benefit greatly from the addition of compatibility reporting. The Compatibility Tool—a Mac OS-only feature—tells users whether documents will display correctly in other versions of Office. On the Mac OS side, the Compatibility Tool will check all previous Office versions, while Office 98 and later are covered on the PC side.

We found no discernible differences when sending documents between our G4 and a PC running Microsofts Office 2004. This review, written using Office 2004 for Mac, rendered nicely on PCs running Office XP and Office 2004.

For insights on Macintosh coverage around the Web, check out eWEEK.com Executive Editor Matthew Rothenbergs Weblog. The Mac OS versions new Project Center feature introduces handy project management tools that integrate across the Office suite. Project Center resides in Entourage but is accessible via any Office application and enables users to organize documents, e-mail and calendar events in one place.

The most noticeable improvements come in Entourage. With its three-column layout, the e-mail client now has a Microsoft Outlook 2003 look, making it easier to view and sort e-mail messages efficiently. This version of Entourage uses the WebDAV (Web-based Distributed Authoring and Versioning) protocol, which provides better performance in low-bandwidth environments. Entourage includes improved spam filtering and now allows users to export PIM (personal information manager) data into an archive for easy backup.

In Excel, the new Mac OS-only Page Layout View, which let us review and manipulate spreadsheets, could cause a stir among PC users who lack this feature.

The Office 2004 for the Mac Word application includes an improved Track Changes feature that is on par with that found in the PC version.

Senior Writer Anne Chen can be reached at anne_chen@ziffdavis.com.

Check out eWEEK.coms Macintosh Center at http://macintosh.eweek.com for the latest news, reviews and analysis about Apple in the enterprise.

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As a senior writer for eWEEK Labs, Anne writes articles pertaining to IT professionals and the best practices for technology implementation. Anne covers the deployment issues and the business drivers related to technologies including databases, wireless, security and network operating systems. Anne joined eWeek in 1999 as a writer for eWeek's eBiz Strategies section before moving over to Labs in 2001. Prior to eWeek, she covered business and technology at the San Jose Mercury News and at the Contra Costa Times.

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