Microsoft released Office for Mac 2011 on Oct. 26. For the first time, the Mac version of Microsoft's productivity software includes Outlook for Mac. Otherwise, the old stalwarts of Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and Messenger continue to be offered-with a few tweaks.
Those tweaks include the Office "ribbon" interface, imported from the PC version, and support for SkyDrive and SharePoint 2007 as file storage. Office 2011 also features Visual Basic for Applications, which was excluded from office 2008. A full eWEEK rundown of Office for Mac 2011 can be found here.
As with many other recent Microsoft products, Office for Mac 2011 adds a handful of cloud-based features.
"Office 2011 has new built-in integration to existing Microsoft cloud-based applications-the free Windows Live SkyDrive, Microsoft SharePoint, and Microsoft Office Web Apps," Eric Wilfrid, Office for Mac's general manager, wrote in an Oct. 26 posting on the Office for Mac blog, "giving users more flexibility and control to work when and where they want."
In a similar vein, other new features increase the ability to collaborate on documents.
"Users now have the tools they need to work with others on documents without the worry of their changes getting lost after multiple rounds of updates," Wilfrid added. "The new co-authoring tools let users edit the same Word document or PowerPoint presentation with other people in different locations." Those users can then send their work to anyone with browser access.
The software also seeks to leverage the Mac's reputation as a multimedia-happy platform.
"With new photo-editing tools throughout the suite, there's no need to leave the Office applications to create visuals that impress," Wilfrid wrote. "And. . .our new Dynamic Reorder tool it provides an instant 3-D view of all layers on the active PowerPoint slide or Word Publishing Layout view page, [which allows] users to simply drag photos, graphics, or text to rearrange the content."
Microsoft first offered a behind-the-scenes glimpse of Office for Mac 2011's features in late July. Those included Template Gallery-which lets users pick from thousands of Microsoft Office templates as a jumping-off point for creating new documents-and an e-mail-threading Conversation View in Outlook for Mac.
According to Neowin.net, which reportedly received an email on the matter from a Microsoft spokesperson, some 6 million copies of Office 2010 have sold since that software's June 2010 debut. Research firm The NPD Group suggested in a July note that Office 2010's early sales trends were "slightly ahead of" those for Office 2007, the franchise's previous release.
Some analysts see Office's sheer ubiquity among both consumers and businesses as potentially dampening Office 2010's spread. "Selling such a heavily used product into a base that has already been upgrading at a very high rate is an enormous challenge," Stephen Baker, an analyst for The NPD Group, wrote in a July 13 blog posting.
But will those same concerns affect Office for Mac 2011?