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Microsoft offers new peek at Office 2008 updates

post #1 of 38
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After months of remaining low-key about its next major update to Office 2008, Microsoft's Macintosh Business Unit has returned to the public eye with details of important new updates to the production suite.

MacBU chief Craig Eisler has broken the months-long silence about the new Mac version of Office with new posts to the company's official blog.

The gesture was intended to help enterprise customers prepare for rolling out the new suite when it launches in mid-January, Eisler said. To that end, most of the emphasis in the new updates was said to focus on improvements for using Office 2008 in a business environment, where compatibility with Windows and Microsoft-based servers would be a crucial factor.

Topping the list of changes for these users was Entourage, the Mac's equivalent to the Outlook e-mail client for Windows. The executive noted that most of the news that would flow from the MacBU in the run-up to its mid-December completion date for Office would center around Entourage features and their integration with Windows-based tools. Later test versions of the program are now said to be tied well enough to Microsoft's Exchange servers and to the normal company workflow that Eisler could stay in the Mac software without turning either to Windows or the older Office 2004.

"I have been living in daily builds of Entourage for over two months now," he claimed. "And I am delighted with the stability and reliability of our Exchange support and how well the calendar interoperates with my assistant, who uses Outlook."

Fellow team member Andy Ruff illustrated his point with one of the most basic features of the Outlook client: the Out of Office message. While regularly used in the workplace by Windows users, their Mac parallels have often had to load their web browsers and manually enable the feature through Outlook Web Access and promptly switch it off after they return. This has been a regular problem for Ruff and many other users, who either ignore the feature or forget to disable it when they return to work.

In contrast, Office 2008 now has a simple options pane that gives the choice of setting the exact time and date for when an Out of Office reply is sent, as well as customized messages depending on whether or not the recipient is included in the user's address book -- similar to Office 2007 for Windows and its interaction with later Exchange servers.

Eisler likewise alluded to a stronger link between the Entourage calendar and Exchange, methods that Mac clients could use in collaborating through a Microsoft SharePoint server, and upgrades to the Entourage mail database. At least a few non-Entourage subjects, such as deploying Office across a network, are set to be discussed over the next several weeks. The team as a whole was reportedly also confident that the final release would speak for itself.

"The whole BU is using Office 2008, with builds that get better every day," Eisler said. "Its been a monumental project for the team - Im proud of the work theyve done in Office 2008 and we cant wait to get it into your hands in January."
post #2 of 38
I don't think I'm the only one who doesn't give a darn about the new Office. iWork is serving as an excellent replacement for my needs. The Mac BU at Microsoft is really gonna have to step it up a notch. And knock a couple hundred bucks off the price too.
post #3 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by DeaPeaJay View Post

I don't think I'm the only one who doesn't give a darn about the new Office. iWork is serving as an excellent replacement for my needs. The Mac BU at Microsoft is really gonna have to step it up a notch. And knock a couple hundred bucks off the price too.

I think this would be the case for a lot of people, but I think the two products serve different markets. People that use the current iWork really weren't the target market for Office anyway.
post #4 of 38
That's great that Macs with Entourage can talk to PCs with Outlook, but what about Entourage's compatibility with the majority of Mac users who use the built-in Mac Mail & iCal clients? The current generation of Entourage doesn't play nice in the workplace with other Macs... an issue which Microsoft hasn't mentioned as part of Office 2008's improvements.
post #5 of 38
4 years since the last version - and we get auto-reply.

Wow.

I'm under-whelmed.
post #6 of 38
Yes, Microsoft Office 2008 is very enthralling right now.... *NOT*
post #7 of 38
Quote:
I have been living in daily builds of Entourage for over two months now, and I am delighted with the stability and reliability of our Exchange support and how well the calendar interoperates with my assistant, who uses Outlook.

Yeah - it's so f*cking stable - that's why they had to push the release to 2008 do to "quality control issues" No way am I shelling out $500 for the fisher price edition of Office.
post #8 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by Toxie View Post

That's great that Macs with Entourage can talk to PCs with Outlook, but what about Entourage's compatibility with the majority of Mac users who use the built-in Mac Mail & iCal clients? The current generation of Entourage doesn't play nice in the workplace with other Macs... an issue which Microsoft hasn't mentioned as part of Office 2008's improvements.

Agreed. If they can allow a simple transfer of Entourage calendar items to iCal my work appointments will be useable by .Mac, iPhone, iPod touch, etc etc... This is a long needed feature. Work emails sent to my iPhone would be a nice option too.
post #9 of 38
You think you Entourage guys are bad off? Try being forced to use Lotus Notes at work.

Entourage is positively embracing of open standards in comparison to Notes. Stellar UI design in comparison too.

Wah.
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post #10 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by the cool gut View Post

Yeah - it's so f*cking stable - that's why they had to push the release to 2008 do to "quality control issues" No way am I shelling out $500 for the fisher price edition of Office.

No....Didn't you see the announcement....Office 2008 was pushed back because Microsoft had to divert resources to a version of Office for the iPhone.....
post #11 of 38
It is nice to see that with the update of Mac Office, they just talk about Entourage. I like iWork '08 so far. Numbers has some growing to do (especially the number of columns limited to a low number) but this seems like a low point in the MS Mac BU right now. The best they can offer up is Entourage news?? Exchange support is important though but you would think they would want to say a few words about Excel. Possibly?

I think MS is finally seeing the light that they better make something that Mac users will hang on too for a few more years because here comes the iPhone selling a a new Mac with it every so often.
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post #12 of 38
Am I the only one who thinks that Microsoft needs to scrap the entire mac version of office?

The mac version has ALWAY had MAJOR compatibility issues with the windows version. Can't they just make a port of the windows version using wine and make it intel only?
post #13 of 38
it's a tremendous advancement of office:mac - microsoft has learned hot to get their software to communicate with . . . microsoft software. those guys are brilliant!

and why no mention of other updates? it's because there are only so many updates you can make to a word processor. they released the software, they added spell check. why do you need a new version every few years? excel calculates. brilliant. what more do you need it to do? i'm sure they'll update the graph-graphics. i wonder why...

now if only people would either learn that powerpoint is a design destroying black hole of a program and ditch it, or microsoft will try to make it useful. wishful thinking.

.PPT = pathetic presentation tool
post #14 of 38
I wouldn't tell any company to stop producing software for Mac, but I sure won't be buying. My last Office for Mac purchas was X. I recently bought Office 2007 for Windows and all I can say is its unbelievably confusing. its taken days just to figure out the menus.

On the other hand, I purchased iWork 08 a few weeks ago with a new iMac, and I've also downloaded OpenOffice. They're both way easier to figure out than office and a lot cheaper.

I think that there will be lots of profit for Microsoft if they cut the price substantially. Lets hope that between iWork and Open Office that they will decide to cut the price to remain competitive, but not eliminate Office for Mac.
post #15 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by corbu View Post

Agreed. If they can allow a simple transfer of Entourage calendar items to iCal my work appointments will be useable by .Mac, iPhone, iPod touch, etc etc... This is a long needed feature. Work emails sent to my iPhone would be a nice option too.

This is semi-possible, by means of .mac -- I have my Entourage calendar at the office sync with my .mac calendar. It in turn sync with my iCal on my MBP. It's a kludge, but I seriously doubt MSFT is going to spend any resources to make their app compatible with someone else's software. They're usually doing everything they can to make their stuff incompatible, just to further lock everyone into their environment.

That said, I'm really glad to see Entourage improvements, as I've already found it to be one of the bright spots of the suite. Does nobody else see the usefulness of the project center? It's one of those features that hasn't made it into the Windows version, yet is incredibly powerful.

Frankly, I do prefer Pages to Word, but I still am forced to use Word in the corporate environment. I don't use it at home. I've only just started playing with Numbers, but expect it'll replace Excel in my home environment, just as Pages has replaced Word.
post #16 of 38
So we'll get better integration with Exchange and some token integration with Sharepoint. That's swell. \
post #17 of 38
I'll be very happy if entourage will work with the exchange server at work (mail.app won't work: no IMAP) and it will be capable of opening my outlook mail archive file. Currently I have to run outlook in parallels just for that functionality.
post #18 of 38
Any news on Live Communication manager? i.e a New version of WIndows Live Messenger for Mac?
post #19 of 38
This seems to be some admission that they're losing the hearts and minds of Mac users on the desktop and that the only place left for them is businesses which still have a Windows backed infrastructure rather than a standards based one or even just trying to fit in to a Mac based infrastructure.

I'm more than happy with iWork 08 myself, not having to use an Exchange server. It's better than Office for me. The only thing I turn to Office for now is editing csv files as Numbers is too slow for large files.

I was envying CSVEd on Windows a while back - http://csved.sjfrancke.nl/

There's no OSX version. I may even be tempted into some Cocoa development to create an OSX version of it. Excel is ok but CSVEd is a lot more useful for the task.
post #20 of 38
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post #21 of 38
In part of the corporate world, Macs a hot now, especially MacBook Pros. But IT guys try to block them because they are unfamiliar with them, unless you work in a Mac-friendly environment, which usually means a company connected to some kind of media industry or web or software development. And even then, it means more work for IT.

This has all changed a lot with the move to intel and with VMWare and Parallels, but what you really want is not to have to go to your Windows window for e-mail and calendaring.

It's not for the guys at home who can do whatever they want. It's for guys at the office who need to seamlessly talk to Exchange and knock out one more reason given to them not to request a Mac.

I'd expect the iPhone will also evolve in that direction, or split into a "consumer" line and a "corporate" line, probably differentiated only, or mainly, by software rather than form factor and that kind of thing.
post #22 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by icfireball View Post

Yes, Microsoft Office 2008 is very enthralling right now.... *NOT*

That's funny, because you were making people think you did find Office 2008 enthralling. But then you tacked the "not" at the end!

post #23 of 38
The purpose of Office is to work with Office and that is the benchmark of success.
post #24 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by sherod View Post

4 years since the last version - and we get auto-reply.

Wow.

I'm under-whelmed.


Hey, its Microsoft doing what it does best. Under-whelming the consumer at EVERY turn
post #25 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by mariofreak85 View Post

Am I the only one who thinks that Microsoft needs to scrap the entire mac version of office?

The mac version has ALWAY had MAJOR compatibility issues with the windows version. Can't they just make a port of the windows version using wine and make it intel only?

Uh, no.

Have you seen Office 2007? The program WITH NO MENU BARS?

Office 2008 KEEPS the menu bars. I'm using Office 2007 in Parallels at work right now because I'm forced to use it. I'm jumping to Office 2008 the second it comes out. I want my menu bars back, dammit!
post #26 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by bryand View Post

I wouldn't tell any company to stop producing software for Mac, but I sure won't be buying. My last Office for Mac purchas was X. I recently bought Office 2007 for Windows and all I can say is its unbelievably confusing. its taken days just to figure out the menus.

On the other hand, I purchased iWork 08 a few weeks ago with a new iMac, and I've also downloaded OpenOffice. They're both way easier to figure out than office and a lot cheaper.

I think that there will be lots of profit for Microsoft if they cut the price substantially. Lets hope that between iWork and Open Office that they will decide to cut the price to remain competitive, but not eliminate Office for Mac.

Office 2007 is confusing because there are no menu bars any more. Office 2008 for Mac keeps the menu bars.

Open Office is more of a competitor to Office than iWork. iWork is good enough for home users, but business and corporate users still need something like Office.
post #27 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kickaha View Post

You think you Entourage guys are bad off? Try being forced to use Lotus Notes at work.

Entourage is positively embracing of open standards in comparison to Notes. Stellar UI design in comparison too.

Wah.

Goddamn right! Every verison of Lotus Notes I've used has been like a form of paricularly perverse torture. Basic frikkin' things like copy/paste, undo, drag & drop, save, etc, just don't work like any sane person would expect them to. It's just horrible!

Still, that's my punishment for working in IBM
post #28 of 38
Thank God I've never had to pay for this software. I always seem to win a copy every year at Macworld. As far as Entourage goes, does anyone else have my problem.....? I set up an "archive" for E mails I need to keep and things just keep disappearing after a while. Also, don't dare click on an E mail while others are downloading, the whole thing blows up and I have to dump the preferences after forcing quit and restart the program to get it to work. I run the database software regularly and it says everything's fine... it's NOT fine!! I've already switched my newsletter and presentations away from MS Office, I'm thinking it's time for a complete switch. I guess this year I'll be trolling the Filemaker booth for a new copy of Filemaker 9, and yes, I was lucky enough to win a copy of 8.5 advanced last year.
post #29 of 38
Office 2004 runs well-enough under Rosetta. I don't see a compelling reason to upgrade. On the PC side, I think Office matured around 2000. All releases after that offered nothing substantially new to the average home user.

I only wonder if Office 2008 will support right-to-left languages such as Arabic -- something its PC counterpart could do for probably over ten years now.
post #30 of 38
With all the Exchange-related additions to Entourage, it feels like MBU is changing the focus of Office: where once it was targeted at the SOHO market, it looks like they're now focusing much more on SMBs and the enterprise instead.

If M$ cedes the low-end to Apple's iWork, iCal and Mail.app, that's fine by me. It's a win/win for both Microsoft and Apple. Microsoft gets to sell more expensive licenses in higher-volume environments and keeps Mac-heavy companies from thinking about defecting from Exchange; Apple gets software that enables Macs to run as something at least resembling fully equal peers on M$-heavy networks, removing a big barrier to entry for Macs in big businesses.
post #31 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kickaha View Post

You think you Entourage guys are bad off? Try being forced to use Lotus Notes at work.

Entourage is positively embracing of open standards in comparison to Notes. Stellar UI design in comparison too.

Wah.

Wasn't the UI the result of all those Claris Emailer people moving north to Redmond way back when? Anyone remember that? Bueller?
post #32 of 38
I simply despise everything Microsoft. It's not that I have some deeply-rooted vendetta against the company. Far from it, actually. It's just that every single time they attempt to produce a product, it comes off half-assed and poorly executed. Vista, the Zune, and MS Office are all prime examples.

On another note, I do hope that there is a way to eliminate the astroturfing.
post #33 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by bedouin View Post

Office 2004 runs well-enough under Rosetta. I don't see a compelling reason to upgrade.

Wait till you start to get files emailed to you saved as ".docx," ".pptx" and ".xlsx". You're going to have to send an (embarrassing and groveling, to me at least) email to the person saying "Could you please re-save it as .doc/.ppt/.xls and resend since we Mac users are still stuck with the 2004 version?".

(Walter Mossberg of the Wall Street Journal addressed this issue in Q&A column yesterday, and mentioned one can downloaded a fix for this problem. Did anyone have luck finding it, and making it work? I can't find a solution anywhere on Microsoft web pages).

Microsoft..... aaaargh.....
post #34 of 38
Quote:
Open Office is more of a competitor to Office than iWork. iWork is good enough for home users, but business and corporate users still need something like Office.

Definitely. I just checked out the lastest NeoOffice. Finally got spell check! It's REALLY looking nice! Especially since it has a database and drawing. I still don't understand why they don't separate the apps (like Netscape/Mozilla->Firefox), and it starts up slow, but hey, not any slower than Office 2004. M$ should indeed be very, very scared of OpenOffice. I have to give it to them. It's really coming together. I hope businesses and home users start using it, and momentum helps it out like with Firefox.

On the other hand, I just used Pages 08 for a project, without ever using it before, and it REALLY helped me to make some maps in a pinch, when GIS wasn't cutting it. I was very pleased with its interface. Like Publisher done right.
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post #35 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by britwithgoodteeth View Post

That's funny, because you were making people think you did find Office 2008 enthralling. But then you tacked the "not" at the end!


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post #36 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by icfireball View Post

Borat (Sacha Noam Baron Cohen) is one of your own. I wouldn't criticize.

Nice.
post #37 of 38
I like office. It has alot of nice features. They have put lots of money into building up the product. I have used it for years...
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post #38 of 38
I am a corporate IT guy, and a Mac user at work. I work in a small division of a very large company. In my organization over the last year Exchange has been configured to first not accept POP3 email connections, and then a few months later, IMAP connections. This forced us to abandon all email clients except the only two that still seem to work with Exchange server as it is now configured: Outlook and Entourage 2004.

I initially found Entourage fine for basic email, but it doesn't seem to have the calendar features that Outlook has. Workers in my company have embraced the calendar collaboration tools on Outlook, and all of our meetings are now scheduled through Outlook. If you want to book a conference room: book it through Outlook. Etc...

So, for the time being, I am running Outlook under Paralells/Win XP on my Macbook Pro. (I was lucky my boss approved the expense for this "fix").

I'd rather have a version of Entourage that played nice with Exchange than to have to run Windows. So, I'm all for this new version of Entourage! Hope it works!!

If it doesn't, I may have a tough time in three years when I'm due for my next computer upgrade. I think it was the Intel inside this Macbook Pro that helped me stay "Mac" when I got this system in January.
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