Microsoft didn’t learn from Vista’s crazy quilt of different versions which turns off buyers and attracts criticism.
Guess what? Microsoft’s Office 2008 for Mac caught the same disease. Choose your poison. $500 to $150. Either way, you get what you pay for. Sometimes.
Don’t hate me because I’m blonde. And don’t hate me because I love using Microsoft Office for Mac. It’s an addiction I don’t want to break.
If you’ve read Mac360 for any length of time, you know that we have a diverse group of opinions and perspectives regarding Mac software. I’m the resident Microsoft Office for Mac lover, and Office 2008 won’t change that.
Let me say right up front that I won’t give you an in depth, highly detailed look at Office for Mac. I just got my copy today and it takes awhile to digest all the candy coated newness from Microsoft’s Mac Business Unit. There’s plenty to chew on, too. Give me a week or so and I’ll cough up more nitty gritty detail, so for now it’s a first look.
It took me a day to get my copy of Office, an upgrade to what once was the full version, but now holds down the middle spot in the Office for Mac line. That’s right. Three different Office versions from which Mac users may choose.
Choose wisely, because each version brings something different to your Mac desktop. Let me go on a limb and say that most home and small business users, not to mention students, will go for the Home and Student Edition.
You don’t need to show any identification to buy the nearly $150 package, though you can save $20 if you buy from the Mac360 Store.
What you get is the basics. Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and my favorite, Entourage, maybe the best major business application on the Mac. That’s it. Nothing else.
For almost $400, there’s Office 2008 for Mac, the full (but not quite fullest) version. Again, it comes with Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Entourage. This version is aimed more at business users and comes with Microsoft Server Exchange support, and a bunch of Automator Actions for Workflows in Office.
There are some things the new version of Office comes without. No Visual Basic support. If your business operation depends on Microsoft’s VB on a Mac, don’t upgrade.
Speaking of upgrades, cough up $500 and you get Microsoft’s Office 2008 for Mac Special Media Edition. It comes with everything in the not-quite-full version but also contains Microsoft Expression Media. What’s that? It’s “for professionals working with libraries of images, video, music, digital assets,” etc.
Office 2008 for Mac should dispel any lingering rumors about Microsoft abandoning the Mac, as if it would matter that much. Apple’s Mac sales are up about 40-percent from last year which was up about 35-percent from the year before, which was also up. Microsoft makes money on Macs.
Microsoft Word – It’s hard to believe, but Microsoft Word debuted on the Mac some 24 years ago, long before it migrated to Windows. As with all of Office, Word runs native on PowerPC Macs and Intel Macs.
Word also contains a controversial new document format, and gone are all the free range palettes replaced by a new toolbox, and a much simplified toolbar. All that will take some time to get used to. Combined in Word is a new viewing option called Publishing Layout.
From what I can see, in Publishing mode, Word handles graphics much better than Word 2004, and in some ways is similar to Pages in Apple’s competing product, iWork ‘08.
Microsoft Excel – The venerable Excel, which also started life as a Mac only application a few decades ago, seems unchanged on the surface. The menu options and location seems similar to Excel 2004.
If you spend money on the upgrade, prepare to be a bit underwhelmed by Excel.
Sharp-eyed Excel users will notice the Elements Gallery right away. Sheets, Charts, Word Art, SmartArt Graphics. These are handy for people not used to graphics.
Excel also comes with a new Formula Builder, which displays input boxes, including a description for elements within the formula. I predict this will save spreadsheet users plenty of time.
Let’s deal with this: Microsoft dumped Visual Basic for Applications in Office. VBA was good for recording macros. Macros in old Excel spreadsheets won’t run in Excel 2008. The suggested replacement is AppleScript and Automator, hence the inclusion of an extensive AppleScript dictionary and plenty of Automator Actions.
I like the changes I see in Microsoft Word, but Excel seems almost like a step backwards. Earl Schieb sprayed Excel with some paint but removed engine parts in the process. The end result is still a capable spreadsheet, however, it pales in comparison to the Windows feature-rich version.
Next up, later in the day will be a first look at PowerPoint, and my favorite Mac application, Entourage. The former functions more like Apple’s Keynote everyday, and the latter is cooler than squirting Zune users.