Microsoft has firmed up the details of the product lineup and pricing for its Mac Office 2008 Suite, which is scheduled to debut on Jan. 15, 2008.
The suite will include the Word 2008 word processor; the Excel 2008 spreadsheet; the PowerPoint 2008 presentation producer; and Entourage 2008, an e-mail and schedule manager.
The Redmond, Wash., companys MacBU (Macintosh Business Unit) introduced the suites product lineup Sept. 25 at the Apple Expo in Paris.
As previewed at Januarys Macworld Expo 2007 in San Francisco, Office 2008 will feature a colorful interface, but it will not be the same as the "ribbon" in Office 2007 for Windows. It will be similar, with larger tool bars and buttons that take up more vertical space, as well as brighter colors.
In addition, Office 2008 will include the following new features: Ledger Sheets for Excel 2008, a Publishing Layout View in Word 2008 (perhaps to compete more directly with Apples Pages application), new SmartArt graphics capabilities and a My Day schedule widget for Entourage 2008.
Click here to read more about the features included in an early version of Mac Office 2008.
Office 2008 will support the Open XML document format, which was submitted to the Ecma International standards organization. The format was initially voted for adoption as an international standard, though in the face of accusations of vote rigging. The application should be able to save files to be compatible with Office 2007.
Some users of large spreadsheets and automation tools will find Excel 2008 a shock, in that it will not include support for VBA (Visual Basic for Applications). Instead, Excel 2008 will support automation through AppleScript, the Mac OS X-native scripting language.
Although lack of VBA support will make this an update to avoid for some, it is the result of Office 2008s move to being a Universal Binary application, and this support of Intel-based (as well as Power PC-based) Macs will be the selling point for many. That the suite no longer needs to run in Mac OS Xs Rosetta emulation environment, as Office 2004 has to on Intel-based Macs, could provide a needed speed boost.
Microsoft said that Office 2008 will come in three versions. The "core" version, Office 2008 for Mac, including all the applications plus Automator and Microsoft Exchange Server support, will cost $399.95, with a $239.95 upgrade price.
Microsoft Office for Mac Home and Student Edition will allow three user licenses, but it wont include the Automator and Exchange Server support. It will cost $149.95 for the retail version, with no upgrade pricing announced.
New to the lineup will be Office 2008 for Mac Special Media Edition, which will add Microsoft Expression Media for Mac, a revised version of the iView Media digital asset management utility. iView was acquired by Microsoft in 2006. This version will cost $499.95, with a $299.95 upgrade price.
All versions will be available for sale starting Jan. 15, 2008.
Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis about productivity and business solutions.