Later this year, Microsoft will be releasing the next major upgrade of their industry-standard office and home productivity tools for Mac users. This improved version, titled “Office: Mac 2011“, will set the productivity line for Apple’s computers in tow with their Windows counterparts, introducing many features that will be present in Microsoft Office 2010, also releasing soon.
Whilst Apple provides their own productivity suite, iWork, it only consists of three applications: Pages, a word processor, Numbers, a (limited) spreadsheet and data capture app, and Keynote, the headlining app that puts PowerPoint to shame with dazzling features. Check out our brief comparison of iWork and Microsoft Office.
However, with Office: Mac, Microsoft has included the familiar Word, PowerPoint and Excel apps, along with Entourage, a Mac-native email client. While Entourage has served users well, it’s never been seen as a replacement for the titan of emailing, Outlook.
Enter Office: Mac 2011, and Microsoft has written a native version of Outlook for Mac, complying 100% with Apple’s Human Interface Guidelines.
In face, the entire suite has been overhauled from the UI side. The Redmond software maker has decided to go with the intuitive Ribbon interface first introduced in Office 2007, and which I find far better than the old “toolbox” system, especially for apps with functionality the size of Excel and PowerPoint.
Initial reports from beta testing puts Office:Mac in favorable light. It seems that Microsoft has listened well to the gripes of users of previous versions of their popular productivity tools, and fixed many problems (UI issues being one of them), and focusing on making this iteration of the suite up-to-date with the latest Mac OS X technologies. This includes bringing back Visual Basic for Applications functionality, which was lost in the 2008 edition to much disgruntlement.
BoyGeniusReport has managed to get quite a few screen shots (50+ of them, to be precise), and below are some of the more interesting pics of the new Office:Mac 2011 suite.