Microsoft announced the immediately availability of Office 2008 for the Macintosh at the Macworld trade show this week in San Francisco. Office 2008 is a consumer-oriented version of the company's dominant office productivity suite that runs only on Macs. Like the PC version of the suite, Office 2008 offers email and personal information management, word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation applications. However, the look and feel of the applications is unique, and Microsoft has built-in some key features it thinks will appeal to Mac users.
"We developed Office 2008 for Mac as a comprehensive productivity suite that also helps people simplify their work," says Microsoft general manager Craig Eisler, who oversees the company's Mac Business Unit (MacBU). "To complement the deep set of new and improved features, we redesigned the interface so that it is truly easier to use. Even Office beginners can create great-looking documents very quickly. And, at the core, we focused on delivering reliable compatibility so that users can confidently share documents across platforms."
Office 2008 includes new versions of Microsoft Entourage, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, and each has been improved with a new Gallery-based user interface. This is similar to but not completely analogous to the new Ribbon-based UI that Microsoft development for Office 2007 for Windows. The company felt that retrofitting the Ribbon to the Mac would be too time consuming and costly, and would alienate Mac users because it is so different from traditional Mac OS X user interfaces.
Office 2008 is available in three different versions. Office 2008 for Mac Home and Student Edition costs $149.95 and can be installed on up to three Macs but does not work with Exchange Server-based email servers. The more traditional Office 2008 for Mac retails for $399.95 (or $239.95 for the upgrade) and adds Exchange compatibility. For $499.95 ($299.95 for an upgrade version), users can purchase Office 2008 for Mac Special Media Edition, which adds the Microsoft Expression Media digital asset management system; this version is aimed at content creators.