Microsoft’s Macintosh Business Unit announced the availability of Office 2008 for Mac at Macworld. A month later, the Italian version of the suite was released, which, in addition to offering many technical and interface innovations, is presented with a more flexible range of choices, which is articulated in the different editions of Office available on the market.

Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac, the main suite, includes the \’storical \\’ set of applications (Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Entourage email client) and provides support for Microsoft Exchange Server and tools for It costs €549,90 for the full version and € 329,90 for the update. Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac Special Media Edition is a novelty of this release: in addition to what is described for the standard version, it also includes Microsoft Expression Media for managing digital resources.

The price of the Special Media Edition is 684,90 euro for the full version and 449,90 for the update. Finally, the educational edition extends its use basin also to domestic, non-professional users, in addition to school.

The name becomes Office 2008 for Mac Home and Student: includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint and a version of Entourage that does not offer support for Exchange Server, as well as not predicting integration with Automator. On the other hand, it includes three licences (of course of a house and school type), at a cost of € 139,90.

Access to the suite has therefore become very convenient for those who use Office not in a business environment and for professional purposes: both the attractive price and the opportunity of the three licenses (used to cover family needs, allowing installation on three different computers) make interesting

It is also worth saying that you can use the upgrade price if you have any previous version of Office for Mac (information on www.microsoft.com/italy/products/mac).

Renewed Interface

One of the most anticipated innovations of this new version of Office is obviously the adoption of Universal Binary code, which allows native execution on Macs with Intel processor: the result is a definitely greater reactivity, especially in Word and in some operations The gain appears more marked on the new Macs (although not as net as we would have expected and we would have hoped, especially in the opening of the applications), while on those that use PowerPC processors (G4 and G5) the performance benefits seem more contained, sign that the

At the first launch of one of the suite applications (starting with the most popular one, Word), the most obvious novelty of the 2008 version appears: the interface, now cleaner and more in line with Leopard and Apple’s iLife and iW suites The Toolbars have been redesigned, even in icons, and are now hooked to the document window. Virtually all operations are delegated to the Box of Instruments, in particular the Formatting Box, which has also been completely redesigned by the 2004 version and is now sensitive to the context. The palette is divided into tabs and hierarchical categories and automatically redesigns itself according to the selected object, for example by offering formatting and color options on a text and bitmap and frame effects on an image.

Anchored to each window is also the new Multifunction Bar, at the top of which are some tabs that promise to greatly speed up the daily work by offering direct access to a series of features, e.g. in Word to document elements, tables, graphs,

This new option is very convenient and allows you to consult all the resources and pre-packaged models available for the document in processing, with a simple click.

The first panel of each application offers a series of preset templates, all freely accessible and some contextual to the rest of the document: for example in Excel the type of sheet, in PowerPoint the theme of the presentation. In Word, the document’s collection of elements allows you to create with a click some sections (e.g. the Bibliograph and Summar models), which are self-completed according to styles. The multifunction bar offers a visual preview of each available element or model and this allows you to reach the desired result in a few seconds (if present or at least similar to one of the presets).

For example: the expert user or who has special needs and needs a strong customization always has the numerous commands of the menu and toolbar dedicated to the tables; who instead prefers to focus on the content of his document rather than juggling between commands and ends The creation of Graphs, one of the categories in the multifunction bar, also offers a large series of pre-packaged examples, even three-dimensional: a click from one of the models in Word and PowerPoint recalls the Excel program in the background, which takes charge of The Excel file, once defined, does not need to be saved, as all data update the graph in real time and can be recalled at any time by an entry in the context menu. Using an Excel sheet for numerical data management allows you to take advantage of all the peculiarities of the calculation program, such as the interactions between boxes or the import of data from an external source; on the other hand, the interface completely identical between the three programs allows very much access

The graph management provides us with the starting point to see how the entire suite shows a completely new behaviour towards the compilation of documents, which now offer in several cases an interesting diversity between content and presentation: in the case of graphics, these have options

SmartArt and WordArt functions, derived directly from the OfficeArt engine, which is the same as Office 2007 for Windows, allow dynamic management of pre-packaged content. SmartArt allows you to create a graphic design or a hierarchical block layout, based on data, with a remarkable effect. A click on one of the templates shows a standard representation, with a data input file: you can insert text strings, change their hierarchy and dependency and observe changes in real time. SmartArt objects, such as Graphics, also allow you to change colors globally or for single voice, as well as being able to vary, simply by clicking on the preview of one model instead of another, the whole representation, keeping its hierarchy The WordArt function allows the creation of a text string that can be associated with a series of styles, including colors, shades

ura, distortions and 3D effects.

Moving on

The relationship with (and in some ways derivation from) Office 2007 for Windows is not limited to the adoption of OfficeArt, but also and above all to the direct and native support for the new Office Open XML format, introduced by Microsoft in its own right. The new format is used by default to save documents and should, according to developers, ensure greater overall stability and typically smaller (and more portable) formats, as well as a renewed compatibility between the Office versions of the two platforms. The same fi le, opened in Word:mac 2008 on Leopard and in Word 2007 on Vista, shows very minimal differences and largely limited to the different approaches that the two operating systems have in the management of fonts: overcome this obstacle with small touches, the rest

All programs offer back compatibility for older versions, not only with the possibility to save as Word document 97-2004 but also with the additional help of the Compatibility Report, already present in the previous edition, reachable both from the formatting palette ( Word 2004 (like the other programs of the previous generation towards their successors) is not able to open files saved in the new format. Although it is still possible to save from the new suite in back-up formats, the previous versions are currently cut off from the possibility to open even the new files for reading. Microsoft plans to release an Open XML File Format Converter Update for Office 2004 for Mac, but the output has been postponed to not before the end of June. For those who remain for any reason related to the use of Office 2004 the risk of an interregnum of potential interoperability problems with Office 2007 users for Windows and Office:mac 2008 is opened.

Of course, you can always ask to save documents in a 2004 format, but it is still a factor to consider. The fracture (or rather, the risk of fracture) with the previous versions, both in the fi le format and in the no longer supported VBA language (whose scripts cannot be created or executed in Office 2008, but which should be re-introduced in one of the

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