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Universal Version of Mac Office Coming

Microsoft plans to deliver a "universal" version of Office for the Mac in the second half of this year, the company announced Tuesday at Apple's Macworld Conference in San Francisco.

The "universal" label means that Office 2008 for Mac -- the official name for the product -- will run on both PowerPC-based as well as newer Intel-based Macs. This is the first version of Office for Mac to support universal binaries.

Interestingly, though the two share some code, so far Microsoft has not branded Office for Mac with the mind-bending "2007 Office System" moniker its marketeers created for the new version of Office on Windows Vista.

In fact, Office 2008 for Mac shares a new graphics engine with 2007 Office System, according to company statements. Additionally, while Office for Vista has its own redesigned user interface -- for example, the "ribbon" -- the new Mac version will feature what Microsoft describes as "Elements Gallery."

One tool in the Elements Gallery, called Document Parts, is designed to automate common, complex tasks such as adding tables of contents or headers and footers.

Among other new features, Office 2008 for Mac will include a Publishing Layout View, which aims to let users more easily create "layout-rich" documents such as newsletters, fliers and brochures by providing desktop publishing layout tools and text box entry. Also, new Ledger Sheets provide tools to let users handle common financial management tasks in Excel -- balancing checkbooks, tracking accounts or managing investment portfolios.

A feature named My Day, Microsoft said, is aimed at letting users track priorities and stay on top of daily activities no matter what application they're currently working in. It's a stand-alone application that provides "at-a-glance" schedule and task viewing without launching Entourage, and lets users color-code items.

About the Author

Stuart J. Johnston has covered technology, especially Microsoft, since February 1988 for InfoWorld, Computerworld, Information Week, and PC World, as well as for Enterprise Developer, XML & Web Services, and .NET magazines.

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