REVIEW: Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac SP 2 Is a Low-Impact Upgrade

By Cameron Sturdevant  |  Posted 2009-07-29 Print this article Print

Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac Service Pack 2 comes at no cost and will be relatively easy to deploy. That said, end users will find little in the way of improvements to the productivity suite, with the "biggest" changes focused on PowerPoint.

Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac Service Pack 2 is a no-cost upgrade that provides only modest improvements to the productivity suite.

Microsoft's service packs for Office are primarily evolutionary, and this one is no exception. IT managers should have little problem deploying the SP; indeed, during my tests, installation was no problem. However, there is no uninstall option, so I advise thorough predeployment testing in environments that use heavily customized Word templates, forms and Excel workbooks.

Office 2008 for Mac SP 2 focuses on the PowerPoint component of the suite. Microsoft Entourage for Mac 2008-the suite's much-maligned e-mail client-gains automated features for connecting to Mobile Me and Windows Live Hotmail accounts, while SharePoint users will be able to use the new Document Connection tool to ease file access. Microsoft has made some bug fixes to Word, and has tweaked Word and Excel for improved performance.

Minor Improvements

Compared with Keynote, Apple's slide presentation application in its own iWorks suite, Office for Mac PowerPoint just barely keeps up.

I was able to change the default theme in PowerPoint, but that's just a basic boon for presentation mavens. Also new in PowerPoint is the ability to add path animation to a slide. Making text and other elements fly around the screen adds a little pizzazz to presentations, but it is hardly the kind of sizable advance in product features I expected. That said, adding the path animation element is simple to do, and anyone with a passing familiarity with slide production will be able to master the feature in less than 5 minutes.

During tests, PowerPoint for Mac was able to retain the formatting of a slide presentation created in PowerPoint 2007 on my Windows XP system. Significantly, both slide decks correctly displayed text in Arial font-previous versions of the Mac version sometimes converted text to Calibri.

Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac Word now retains the formatting of numbered lists. From Microsoft Office 2007 for Windows running on a virtual PC, I opened a numbered list created in the Mac version of Word, and everything displayed correctly. Aside from this minor change, Word is relatively unchanged from its previous state.

Entourage, the Outlook equivalent in Office for Mac, has new account creation wizards to help with Mobile Me and Windows Live Hotmail integration. During tests, the wizard helped me create an account linked to Windows Live Hotmail service. SP 2 is required for organizations that intend to use the Web-based edition of Entourage.

Technical Director Cameron Sturdevant can be reached at

Cameron Sturdevant Cameron Sturdevant is the executive editor of Enterprise Networking Planet. Prior to ENP, Cameron was technical analyst at PCWeek Labs, starting in 1997. Cameron finished up as the eWEEK Labs Technical Director in 2012. Before his extensive labs tenure Cameron paid his IT dues working in technical support and sales engineering at a software publishing firm . Cameron also spent two years with a database development firm, integrating applications with mainframe legacy programs. Cameron's areas of expertise include virtual and physical IT infrastructure, cloud computing, enterprise networking and mobility. In addition to reviews, Cameron has covered monolithic enterprise management systems throughout their lifecycles, providing the eWEEK reader with all-important history and context. Cameron takes special care in cultivating his IT manager contacts, to ensure that his analysis is grounded in real-world concern. Follow Cameron on Twitter at csturdevant, or reach him by email at

Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...
Manage your Newsletters: Login   Register My Newsletters

Rocket Fuel