Office for Mac 2011 will be launched on Oct. 26, Microsoft announced on Tuesday. The launch date had been rumored for several weeks, and pre-orders begin now.
This is the first major revision for the Mac office suite since early 2008, and the productivity package has been retooled to largely resemble Windows Office 2010. Some of the new features include a full-screen view in Word and a Dynamic Reorder feature that allows layers in a document or presentation to be moved around.
'Almost Forget You're in Word'
In a video posted on Microsoft's Mactopia site, Mac Senior Evangelist Kurt Schmucker said something users will "notice right away in Office 2011 is the launch speed of each of the apps." He also pointed to improvements in charting, which he said is much faster in the new Excel. Schmucker recalled that one tester described the new Word and Excel as "light because they are so much faster."
Full Screen actually offers two views -- one designed for writing, and one for reading. When in the full-screen view for writing, the user interface disappears. A formatting toolbar appears when the mouse is moved to the top of the screen. In the same video on Mactopia, Senior User Experience Manager Han-Yi Shaw said that, when a user is in this view, you "almost forget you're in Word because all you see is the page."
Shaw said the company has "long had this idea to, in one swoop, dynamically reorder all the layers in a presentation or document." He described Dynamic Reorder as "exciting" and "futuristic," helping to make a Word document or a presentation "enjoyable and intuitive at the same time."
Free Upgrade from Office 2008
Other new features include a view of multiple e-mail accounts within Outlook, access to Microsoft's SkyDrive file-sharing service, and reportedly complete compatibility with Windows Office 2011. Visual Basic for Applications macros is back, which will please fans of that automation tool, but, according to some reports, Outlook won't sync with Exchange 2003 or earlier versions, and there's no synchronization with Mac's iCal.
For collaborative work, a document can be stored on SkyDrive or a SharePoint server and edited or written to by multiple users, whether on Mac or Windows machines.
Office 2011 includes Word, Excel and PowerPoint in the Home and Student editions, plus Outlook in the Home and Business edition. Home and Student will cost $119.99 for a single license and $149.99 for three licenses. Home and Business will be priced at $199.99 and $279.99 for one and two licenses, respectively.
In general, upgrades will not be allowed, just as they are not for Windows Office 2011. However, purchasers of the current Office 2008 can get a free upgrade to 2011, an offer that began in August and will continue to Nov. 30. A reduced-rate academic version will also be available.