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The latest Mac version of Microsoft's productivity suite also includes Outlook for the first time, giving Apple customers more for their money. The suite is available in 13 languages and will be available at retailers in 45 countries by November.
With Office 2011, Mac users will get the same collaboration and social networking tools that shipped with Office 2010 for Windows in May. The new Mac version offers a direct connection to Office Web Apps, which is Microsoft's cloud-based version of the desktop suite.
From Web Apps, users, whether on a Mac or PC, can store and access desktop-created documents from any location with an Internet connection. Web Apps also provides co-authoring tools for people to work on Word documents or PowerPoint presentations together, provided they are using either Office 2010 or 2011. All work on documents stored in Web Apps can be conducted through a browser.
Another major new feature is the addition of Outlook, which is Microsoft's email client, contact manager and calendar utility. In the Mac version of Office, Outlook replaces the Entourage component that was used in previous versions of the suite.
Among the Outlook features Apple customers might find useful is the "Conversation" view that groups all messages on one topic, a capability similar to the "Organize By Thread" option in Apple's Mail client.
In addition, the Outlook database is expected to work better with Apple's Time Machine backup software in the Mac. With Entourage, Time Machine would backup the software's entire database, even when only a few messages were added. With Outlook, Time Machine will be able to do incremental backups.
The new Office suite also includes Excel and hooks to Microsoft SharePoint, if needed. The latter is a family of software products for collaboration, file sharing and Web publishing from a company's behind-the-firewall server. Other additions include compatibility with more file formats, which means documents printed from a PC or Mac will come out the same.
Roughly three quarters of Mac owners use Office, making it one of the most popular third-party software on Apple machines. "Mac users need Office because it helps them work with the Windows world," Eric Wilfrid, general manager of Microsoft's Office for Mac team, said in a statement.
Office for Mac 2011 comes in two editions. Microsoft's suggested retail price for the home and student version, which does not include Outlook, and the home and business edition, which does, is $150 and $280, respectively.