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Summary:

The official Office for Mac blog announced yesterday that Office for Mac 2011 will be available for purchase starting Oct. 26, so roughly a month from now. You can pre-order your copy now at Amazon, too. This is what I think about the beta so far.

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I always have such high hopes for Microsoft Office for Mac. “This time it’ll be better,” I think, and then, without fail, it isn’t. That’s when I end up just switching to Windows using Boot Camp whenever I want to use Word, and Microsoft’s nefarious plan becomes apparent.

Office for Mac 2011 looks to break that track record, and we won’t have to wait long to find out if it does. The official Office for Mac blog announced yesterday that the new version will be available for purchase starting Oct. 26, roughly a month from now. You can pre-order your copy now at Amazon, as well.

Among the new features is Dynamic Reorder, which allows you to reorder the layers in a document or presentation on the fly easily, something that came out of user feedback. Microsoft is also clearly paying attention to usage trends, since it also introduced a new Full Screen view that mimics much simpler products like WriteRoom that are designed to take the distractions out of writing. All you see is a white page on a black screen.

I’ve had a chance to test out the beta version of Office 2011, and I have to say that my early impressions are overwhelmingly positive. I haven’t had cause to jump into my Boot Camp partition since installing it, for instance (except to play Civilization V, but that’s a totally different post).

Office 2011 also sees the arrival of the Ribbon, Microsoft’s new navigation scheme for the productivity suite. It’s a welcome addition, since I always found using the floating formatting window really counter-intuitive and generally frustrating.

Menu and interface improvements aside, Office 2011, even in beta form, offers tremendous improvement in terms of stability and performance. I haven’t had it crash on me yet, and it opens and loads much faster than Office 2008. At the very least, the impression of intentional hobbling on Microsoft’s part is definitely gone.

While I’m probably going to stick with iWork as my main productivity suite, since my end products usually take the form of PDFs and I like their fancy-pants templates, I’ll actually be glad to get my hands on the final version of Office 2011, for those times when Apple’s offering isn’t an option.

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  1. Doesn’t it come with Outlook (and PST support)? That’s a huge feature (for some).

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  2. The new Microsoft Office for mac is going to be a great upgrade to the previous version. Just from the pic of a sample document I can tell that Microsoft really took a look into their software and made some huge adjustments.

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  3. Can you say whether it will include (similar but different) OneNote and/or Word’s notebook view? Thx.

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  4. I’m primarily interested in stability and startup speedt. Word 2008 takes 1-10 MINUTES to start on my mac pro and longer on my mac mini. Office 2008 was a crime against the Mac, removing ‘macro’ support from Excel should have resulted in a firing squad. Crashing, buggy behavior, focus problems, and other unprofessional garbage are what defines Office since the intel switchover by apple. 2004 on PPC chips was a fine product, but it suffered (suffers) badly under emulation and all of MS Office 2008 is a broken, sad, and depressing commentary on the state of microsoft’s OSX software dev team in the late 2000s. Forced to use their software for compatibility reasons, I am praying hard that MS Office 2011 is a radical improvement. If not, our mac-desktop-using organization will probably have to switch to something else as we use spreadsheets with tens of thousands of rows and track-changes-enabled editing products heavily every day.

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  5. I’m extremely happy that Microsoft added the ribbon feature in the new Office for Mac. As you said, the floating window was a huge nuisance.

    But what I’m excited about more than anything is the addition of Outlook. I’ve been an Outlook Express/Outlook user for at least 10 years now and have not been able to find anything else, to my liking, that comes close to replacing it. I’m now using Entourage and can’t wait to get rid of it.

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  6. I run Paralells to use my Office 2007 and it works great. I rarely even have to use it anymore now that I concentrate on iWork. Dont spend the money. Its just not worth it to try to continue to use PC products on the mac.

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  7. Might get this one. I made a presentation in the new PowerPoint and actually liked it. It has more customization options than Keynote, although Keynote still beats PowerPoint in ease of use.

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