I must admit, I’ve been pretty lucky when it comes to getting early access to the latest versions of Microsoft Office. Earlier this year, I participated in a program set up by Microsoft called “Office 2010 Real Life Stories”. Leveraging the success of that program, I was able to get involved in the tail-end of the Office for Mac 2011 early access program. In the past, the two platform-specific Office suites seemed to me to be disparate and almost from completely different companies. Times have changed, and so has Microsoft Office.
It’s been several years since the latest facelift of Office for Mac 2011, and I was eager to find out what the developers at Microsoft had up their sleeves for this major revamp of the software suite. I have been regularly upgrading my Office suites on both platforms and had felt that the Mac was getting a little neglected. The last release for the Mac was Office 2008, which seems like eons ago. Personally, I was itching for an update!
I first spent quite a few months with Office 2010 for the PC in the Real Life Stories program. Monthly webinars and an online forum quickly got me introduced and trained on new features, of which there were many. Also, I got quite a lot of hands-on experience with Office 2010 over the past several months. As the program was ending, I heard rumblings of Office 2011 for the Mac. Would it be comparable to Office 2010 for the PC, I wondered?
Getting into the last few weeks of beta testing Office 2011 pretty much answered my comparison questions. Yes, Office for Mac 2011 is comparable to Office 2010 for PC. And yes, if you are a Mac user in a PC environment, you should rejoice a bit here. More likely, there is even less of a need to have a virtualization solution of Windows running with the PC version of Office now, or, have a dedicated Windows machine AND a Mac (the way I do at my work).
For starters, and I will go into other examples a bit later, the new Outlook 2011 for Mac now simply works great. (Be sure that you have a version of Microsoft Exchange Server that is compatible!) In fact, it probably has a more robust feature-set than the standard Mac Mail.app (which has Microsoft Exchange Server integration). And Word, PowerPoint and Excel have all received some great new features and enhancements, bringing them on par with their siblings on the PC. Let’s take a quick look at some highlights of each application in the Office 2011 suite for Mac that I particularly like or that is new/improved and worthy of a mention.
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