After a series of delays , Microsoft plans to release Office for Mac to brick-and-mortar and online stores on January 15, making this the first update in nearly four years. Office for Mac includes Word, Excel for spreadsheets, PowerPoint for presentations and Entourage for e-mail and time management. There’s no Microsoft Access database application for the Mac, although Filemaker’s upcoming release of Bento offers Mac users a new choice. Unlike Microsoft Office , the interface changes don’t look radically foreign next to the edition.
Microsoft Office 2010 Professional
After a series of delays , Microsoft plans to release Office for Mac to brick-and-mortar and online stores on January 15, making this the first update in nearly four years.
Office for Mac includes Word, Excel for spreadsheets, PowerPoint for presentations and Entourage for e-mail and time management. There’s no Microsoft Access database application for the Mac, although Filemaker’s upcoming release of Bento offers Mac users a new choice. Unlike Microsoft Office , the interface changes don’t look radically foreign next to the edition. That’s good news for anyone who doesn’t want to relearn the locations of common functions. The applications for Windows arrange functions within tabs, while the Mac software largely clusters functions within the same drop-down menus including File, Edit, and View.
By and large, most of the changes focus on attempting to help users craft more attractive documents. For instance, Office for Mac features the same templates and Smart Art graphics as the Windows counterparts. These are premade templates with 3D and translucent designs. There are more welcome and substantial changes as well. Now you can save to PDF, and Automator actions are supported. The new My Day widget for Entourage floats on the Mac desktop displaying calendar items and to-do lists.
This is handy if you rely on Entourage but don’t want to run it all the time. Office for Windows clusters functions within a contextual “Ribbon” toolbar that displays different options. Office for Mac lacks the Ribbon, but some menu items appear only in step with the task at hand. We found the shape-shifting neither terribly distracting nor useful. For simple tweaks such as changing fonts, you’ll need to consult floating formatting boxes.
Being accustomed to Office for Windows, we’d rather find all these options at the top of the screen. Free file conversion tools won’t be available until as long as 10 weeks from now, or 8 weeks after the applications are available in stores.
That means for now, should you save work in a new OOXML format in a hurry, someone with the older software won’t be able to open it. Although we’re glad that Microsoft offers free converters, we find the forced extra steps annoying in Office That said, the new document types are smaller and purportedly more secure than their predecessors.
You’ll need a Mac with 1. Installation took about 20 minutes on our MacBook running the Leopard operating system. Fortunately, those who have recently purchased Office for Mac can upgrade for free. Indeed, rivals to Office for Mac seem like a bargain, even though they offer fewer tools. These are all dandy for composing and editing text documents, juggling spreadsheets, and creating slide-show presentations.
Word Although the look and feel are refreshed, Word isn’t drastically different from its predecessor. Its changes should mostly please those creating documents they want to show off.
We really like Publishing Layout View’s elementary desktop publishing tools. Document Elements building blocks make swift work of adding cover pages, tables of contents, and the like. OpenType ligature support improves the appearance of fonts in Word.
Those in academia should appreciate new reference tools, although there are only four citation styles. Users who wrangle with form letters will find that Mail Merge has become more intuitive, with step-by-step instructions. Bloggers don’t get a custom layout in Word as with Office , but that’s not a big loss given Microsoft’s lack of support for the latest Web coding standards. Perhaps the biggest selling point for the new Word is the ease with which it can make documents easy on the eyes.
Excel As well as making charts easier on the eyes, Excel for Mac adds tools for stepping through complex formulas. Formula Builder walks you through building calculations, keeping recently used ones at the top of its memory.
As you type in the Formula bar, Excel will autofill values that may match. Excel has expanded and can now handle a total of The Elements Gallery offers Ledger Sheets, templates for commonly used tasks such as juggling a household budget or managing company payroll.
We find these handy for getting started with a project. However, we prefer the elegant layouts, outside-the-grid setup, and print preview tools within Apple’s Numbers for light users of spreadsheets. Probably the worst thing about Excel overall is its lack of support for Visual Basic. While power spreadsheet users will find Excel richer than other programs, those who rely upon macros are sure to be disappointed and may be better off keeping Excel or even switching to Excel for Windows.
PowerPoint Microsoft continues to tout its Smart Art graphics, which can turn a bulleted list into nearly any kind of diagram or flowchart with a few quick clicks. However, as with Office for Windows, we find Smart Art initially a bit less intuitive than advertised.
The Toolbox’s new Object Palette keeps formatting options in one place. You can resize elements with a zoom slider in a snap, just as Dynamic Guide lines help to align text boxes and pictures. PowerPoint stands out from Apple’s Keynote and other competitors in key areas, such as control over audio narration. And there are more layout and slide transition themes.
While making a public presentation, a detailed digital clock is meant to help keep you on track. A Thumbnail View like the one in Office may help to keep from losing your place. You can flip through slides on location using an Apple Remote. Entourage Although Mac users can rely upon the free Mail, Entourage offers more features fit for business.
The upgrade offers more practical functions than its counterpart, such as an Out of Office assistant that lets you craft vacation messages specific to the recipient. Filters for junk mail and phishing are beefed up. There are To Do lists, accessible in the My Day widget along with appointments and the color-coded calendar. You can accept or reject a meeting directly within a calendar event.
Meetings can be forwarded directly to others, and conflicting and adjacent appointments are better managed. The workspace is more customizable overall, thanks to toolbar tweaks and the Favorites menu. My Day is a helpful snapshot of upcoming To Do items and appointments, although its bluish appearance can’t be customized. We just wish that it showed an entire day’s events instead of hiding the morning’s appointments in the afternoon and displaying overdue appointments in a separate pop-up window.
Setting up Entourage for a Gmail account took no time. However, after claiming to have succeeded at setting up our Hotmail account, Microsoft failed to explain why it couldn’t do that after all. Messenger for Mac Microsoft also throws in this free instant-messaging application, which enables users of its IM tool and Yahoo Messenger to contact each other. Messenger for Mac enables users to check spelling, pick from among many emoticons, and see what others are listening to on iTunes.
Service and support Microsoft offers searchable inline and online help menus, which answered most of our questions, as well as Web-based community forums. Video support is not yet available. Conclusion Overall, we found ourselves wondering why someone would splurge for Office for Mac Sure, it’s a step up from the version, and the only one that runs natively on Intel-based Macs. But other companies serve up software that’s compatible with Office documents and costs half as much, if not less–or nothing at all.
Office for Mac also skips some niceties that give its Windows counterpart an advantage over rival software, such as the interface slider bar for zooming in on a document. The document element templates may be attractive and helpful, but the selection feels skimpy next to Office for Windows, and Smart Art isn’t as intuitive to use as advertised. It’s too bad that the easy-to-find metadata inspector and other touted security features for saving work in Office are absent. Plus, we’d like to see more integration among the applications.
For example, in Office for Windows, a chart pasted from Excel into Word will change when you manipulate its underlying data set in Excel. Nevertheless, people who rely heavily upon productivity software for such tasks as bulk mailings or crunching scientific calculations in spreadsheets may prefer Microsoft’s package over others. Although we like Apple’s attractive, introductory Numbers spreadsheet application, for instance, Excel for Mac is more robust, handling a million rows of data.
At the same time, Excel ‘s lack of Visual Basic support is a serious flaw that shafts power users. Still, Entourage’s update may motivate more businesses to use Office on a Mac.
Word also offers richer features than Apple Pages, such as mail merge form letters that can accept data from sources other than the Mac Address Book. There’s better support for long documents as well. File compatibility is another reason to skip, say, iWork or ThinkFree Office , which can read Office’s new files but can’t fully edit dynamic charts and Smart Art graphics. If you and fellow project collaborators plan to alter all elements of documents saved in Microsoft’s newest formats, you’ll have to spring for Office for Mac What do you need to know about free software?
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