Preemptive apologies to those of you who read Gizmodo to get away from work: Sorry! Now pay attention: The next version of Office for Mac is on its way, and we've got a sneak peak.
There's been a funny disconnect over the years between Office for Mac and Office for PC, which staggered release dates and differing feature sets between the two. To an extent, Office 2011 for Mac brings the platforms back in sync. Here's what to expect:
• Ribbons!: The ribbon interface, which took over Office on Windows in v.2007 and found its way into some of Windows 7's default apps, like Paint, has finally made the jump to Mac. Luckily, Microsoft opted for a native look, building the new ribbons out of familiar interface elements and keeping the aesthetic sufficiently Mac-like. It's a conceptual conversion, so people who jump between PCs and Macs don't get confused.
• Sharing!: Office 2011 lets you jump into documents with Windows Office users, and edit them at the same time - it'll lock a specific paragraph while you're working on it, but allow your collaborator to edit the rest of the document. It's also highly integrated with the Office Online suite, which lets you back up and edit your documents in the cloud. Collaboration is the new non-collaboration! (?)
• Outlook!: Mac users will finally get Outlook. No, not Entourage - real, actual Outlook, like Microsoft promised back in August. Salient features include easy .PST file importing, Time Machine and Spotlight support, and, well, it's Outlook, so you know what you're getting into.
The new suite isn't set for release until the holiday season this year, though we should be able to get a (much) closer look at it over the summer. Desk drone Apple fanboys, I would like to wish you a merry Christmas.
Introducing Office for Mac 2011: The Quintessential Teammate
Next version to deliver on top community requests: better tools to work together and improved compatibility.
SAN FRANCISCO - Feb. 11, 2010 - You, the Mac community, have a voice - and at the Microsoft Macintosh Business Unit (MacBU), we listen. Our charter for more than two decades has been to use your feedback to build the best productivity suite on the Mac. Recently you've asked for better ways to work with colleagues and friends anywhere, anytime, across platforms. So today at Macworld 2010, we are answering with details on how you can create and share your ideas using Office for Mac 2011, the next version of the leading productivity suite on the Mac. The suite has new connections to Microsoft services so you can work together more effectively, an updated user interface making tasks easier, and essential compatibility to ensure your documents look the way you made them when shared.
"Together with your team - officemates, family or classmates - you are part of the community that helps shape each version of Office for Mac," said Eric Wilfrid, MacBU general manager at Microsoft Corp. "You've told us that working together across platforms is a priority to you and that's why we are making Office for Mac 2011 the best, most compatible productivity suite on the Mac."
New Co-Authoring Tools and Office Web Apps
The new co-authoring tools in Office 2011 give you and your teammates the ability to work on a file from Word, PowerPoint or Excel1 from different locations, brainstorm ideas, and stay on the same page regardless of time, geography or platform. Co-authoring improves the processes of working together, removing the pain and frustration of multiple versions, lost edits, or even trying to set a time for the group to meet. With this new feature you can keep track of your team with the Presence Everywhere feature that gives real-time status updates on who is working on the document directly in the application.
Office 2011 also delivers a connection to Microsoft Office Web Apps from the application, giving you a simple way to access and share Office documents from any machine with an Internet connection. Similar to the experience in Microsoft Office 2010 for PC users, the Office Web Apps make it easy to get your work done virtually anywhere. These days work doesn't stop at your desktop. You need to stay productive with access to your information no matter where you are, without worrying about whether or not you e-mailed a crucial file to yourself. Currently in beta, Office Web Apps are available to both home and business users (across platforms) and allow documents to be stored via your Windows Live ID account or on Microsoft SharePoint Technologies.
New User Interface Design: Office for Mac Ribbon
Another big addition to the Office 2011 suite is a ribbon that's at the core of our next-generation Office for Mac user experiences. We took your feedback and haven't completely rearranged what you know and love: the new design is an evolution of the Office 2008 Elements Gallery and uses the classic Mac menu and Standard Toolbar giving you the best of both worlds. You can even collapse the ribbon and the Toolbar for more screen space or for the more advanced users who rely on keyboard shortcuts. Together these tools make it easy to find and discover new and frequently used commands. In fact, more than 80 percent2 of the most used features live in the default view of our new user experience so you don't have to waste time finding the tool you need. Built using the latest Mac OS X technologies, the ribbon delivers a modern and fluid experience and also gives you a more consistent experience across platforms, which is key to productivity as 75 percent of Mac users also use a PC.3
New: Outlook for Mac Supports .PST Import
Along with the updated user interface and quick access to the Office Web Apps, the MacBU announced last August that Outlook for Mac is coming to Office 2011, replacing Entourage. Outlook for Mac is a new application that leverages the Exchange Web Services protocol and is being built using Cocoa, allowing for improved integration with the Mac OS. Today we are also announcing that Outlook for Mac will import .PST files from Outlook for Windows - a top customer request. In addition, as announced last year, Outlook for Mac features a reliable, high-speed, file-based database with Spotlight search and back-up support from Time Machine. Outlook for Mac also provides Information Rights Management to help prevent sensitive information from being distributed to or read by people who do not have your permission to access the content. Outlook for Mac provides an integrated solution for managing your time and information and, when it is used in conjunction with Microsoft Exchange Server, you benefit from increased collaboration capabilities and security enhancements.
Office for Mac 2011 will be available later this year. For updates on all things Office for Mac, follow the team on Twitter (@OfficeforMac) and on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Office-For-Mac/272026096667).