Now that I have spent a little time using Office 2008 for the Mac I felt it only fair to share my brief impressions of the new office suite. I can’t only bash the parts I don’t like and not give Microsoft credit for the good bits so here goes.
Right off the bat it is impressive how fast the entire new Office suiteis, now that the whole thing is written natively for the Intel chipsetin my MacBook Pro. The older version was emulating the Intel supportso Office 2008 for Mac is a significant improvement over the olderversion. All of the programs open and run as fast as any other programon the MacBook Pro and this is a big boost to productivity using thesuite. All of the programs that make up Office 2008 have much more eyecandy displayed and yet still run very fast. This alone is worth theupgrade for most users in my opinion.
The new ribbon interface is not the same as the Windows counterpartsbut is very similar in function. The ribbon interface and all menusare customizable by the user so you have the opportunity to build theprogram to your preference in the interface department. I find theThumbnail view in Word 2008 to be particularly useful already fornavigating in long complex documents. All in all the new programs aredesigned to make it easier to work with your documents, and that’s whatan office suite should be doing. Kudos to Microsoft for the interfacechanges. Did I mention that it all works so fast, too?
Along with the ribbon interface Microsoft has left in the palettes forformatting and the like and this is a big improvement over the Windowsversions of the programs. The most commonly used formatting commandsare automatically opened in a separate palette window that can beclosed if desired or moved around on the screen. It is easy to formatexisting documents as a result and I’d like to see an equivalent on theWindows side.
Entourage 2008 is much improved over the 2004 version with the sameinterface improvements and customizations can help you build theprogram to your liking. Entourage is probably the Office 2008 programthat benefits the most from the speedups in the suite. Everything nowhappens instantly in Entourage and it is a joy to use. Makingcustomized views of your PIM data is easier than ever to do and withthe Project Center Entourage can now be the program that heavy userscan stay in all day and get instant visual feedback on their projectsand always see where they need to focus their time. I am very happywith the new Entourage and how well it works with my Exchange Serverwith the exceptions of no task nor note syncing as I mentioned before.This is the only thing keeping me from making Entourage my main PIMapplication. I will have to continue to use Outlook on the Windowsside for now which is a shame since Outlook has nothing remotelyresembling the Project Center. The new My Day utility gives you awindow into your Entourage events for the day without having Entouragerunning, something that some folks will likely appreciate. I tend tokeep Entourage running all the time so it’s not that big a deal to mebut YMMV.
Overall I am very impressed with the interface and speed improvementsthat Microsoft has incorporated into Office 2008 for Mac. I find thenew programs run faster than the Windows equivalent and I continue tofind little improvements with usage that impress me. Here are screenshots of each program in the new suite so you can appreciate theinterface changes I have discussed:
Word 2008 for Mac
Excel 2008 for Mac
PowerPoint 2008 for Mac
Entourage 2008 for Mac
Entourage 2008 for Mac- no tasks on my plate. :(