Microsoft releases Office 2008 with new Windows compatibility features, but macros are gone
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
By John Rizzo
Microsoft today released Office 2008 for Mac, the first version of the office suite to be native to Intel Macs. The version features improved reliability with Exchange Server, support for Office 2007 for Windows file formats, and a graphics engine that is the same as the one in Office 2007.
Although there are improvements in Windows compatibility, the dropping of support for VBA macros will force some users in cross-platform environments to stick with Office 2004. Mac users can open files containing macros but cannot run the macros. A Microsoft spokesperson said that the company recommends that sites adopt AppleScript for automation, but it doesn't have a recommended strategy for sites that that have Macs and Windows PCs to sharing files with macros. As with previous versions, Entourage 2008 does not support Exchange's native MAPI protocol.
Entourage and Exchange
As an example of improved Entourage 2008 reliability with Exchange Server, a Microsoft representative said that database rebuilds won't be needed as often and are required less than previous versions. The spokesperson also said that there were other changes in the low-level communications between Entourage 2008 and Exchange Server.
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- Office 2008 12.0.1 fixes bugs with Exchange, Word Win compatibility; Office 2004 also updated
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- MacTech to help with lack of VBA in Office Mac 2008
- Beta converter turns Word .docx files into RTF, but can't save to .docx
- No MAPI for Entourage 2008, but Kerberos added
- Entourage 2008 supports kerberos for AD, GAL authentication
- Entourage and Exchange Tips and Reports
As we've reported before, Entourage 2008 can use kerberos to authenticate to Active Directory for single sign on and can authenticate to Exchange Server's global address list (GAL). Previous versions of Entourage could not be part of Active Directory single sign-ons. (The included Messenger for Mac 6.0, which is not new, also enables users to add contacts from the GAL to the Messenger contacts list.)
Entourage can take advantage of more of Exchange Server's features. Exchange 2007-compatible resource booking allows Entourage 2008 users to book rooms in a simple manner and without adding overhead to Entourage. A new Out of Office (OOF) Assistant enables users to set up their Exchange account to send a custom auto-reply message.
Microsoft also said that calendar management actions such as Accept and Decline are more consistent with Outlook.
Entourage 2008 has a new companion application called My Day that can display appointments, tasks, and messages in a small space without Entourage being open. Users can create appointments in My Day, which will be automatically transferred to Entourage.
Office 2007 for Windows file formats and graphics
The OpenXML file formats used in Office 2007 for Windows (.docx, .xlsx, .pptx) are the default format that the Office 2008 applications uses to create documents. Users can change the default to the older formats (.doc, .xls, .ppt). Office 2008 can read both formats.
Microsoft said that in addition to providing Office for Windows compatibility, the OpenXML file formats create documents that are up to 75 percent smaller than older formats.
Office 2008 shares the same graphics engine, called OfficeArt, that is used in Office 2007 for Windows. The company said that OfficeArt adds improved "cross-platform file fidelity" and visual eye candy such as refletions, glows, and 3-D effects.
The new graphics engine does not help with movie formats. A Microsoft spokesperson said that movies inside of PowerPoint 2008 presentation are still subject to the same kind of compatibility issues that users have seen when presentations containing movies are moved from Mac to Windows. He did say that embedded movies are a better bet than linked movies.
Office 2008 also supports OpenType ligatures in typefaces.
Office 2008 comes in three versions: Office 2008 for Mac Home and Student Edition (US $150), Office 2008 for Mac (US $400, US $240 for upgrade) and Office 2008 for Mac Special Media Edition (US $500, $300 upgrade). All require Mac OS X 10.4.9 or later and a Power PC G4, G5 or Intel processor.
Office 2008 12.0.1 fixes bugs with Exchange, Word Win compatibility; Office 2004 also updated
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Yesterday Microsoft posted updates for its current and previous versions of Office: Office 2008 for Mac 12.0.1 Update and Office 2004 for Mac 11.4.1 Update. Both address security issues and stability, but the Office 2008 update is the more substantial, with two dozen bug fixes, including some that affect cross-platform abilities. The Office 2008 12.0.1 update also includes performance improvements and includes bug fixes for Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard.
Office 2008 for Mac 12.0.1 also fixes several synching problems with Entourage synching calendars and contacts with Exchange Server. These include problems with duplicate and missing calendar events. Microsoft said that the update will provide "more consistency with changes to the calendar on the Exchange server." The update also fixes a problem with syncing contact lists between Entourage 2008 and Exchange.
Office 12.0.1 also fixes two bugs in Word opening documents created in Windows:
- Fixes an issue that prevents Word 2008 from opening documents created by Word 2007 for Windows that contain equations.
- Fixes an issue for PowerPC Macs that causes fonts in documents created by Word 2007 for Windows to display incorrectly when the document in Word 2008.
For the Office 2004 update, Microsoft said that the Office 11.4.0 must be installed before the 11.4.1 update.
If you've seen any of these problems with Entourage 2008 and Word 2008,
how well the update worked.
MS to bring VBA Macros back to Office, releases Office 2008 SP1
Today, Microsoft announced that its next major version of Office for Mac will bring back Visual Basic for Applications (VBA macros), a feature that was dropped from Office 2008. VBA macros are supported in Office 2007 for Windows and 2004 for Mac, but don't run in Office 2008. Users who required macro for compatibility with Windows cannot up upgrade to Office 2008 without losing that compatibility. Microsoft did not announce when it would ship the next version of Office, but it could be several years, given the 4-year gap between Office 2004 and Office 2008.
Microsoft today also released Service Pack 1 (SP1) for Office 2008, the first major update to this version of the suite. The company said that in general, SP1 increases stability, performance, and security. It also makes improvements in Entourage support of Exchange Server. Service Pack 1 improves synchronization with Exchange, including removing attachments from Exchange Server messages and synchronizing to the server. Exchange users can now use AppleScript to edit Exchange Server messages and synchronizing the changes to the server. Microsoft said that Entourage SP1 also includes significant improvements in calendar view and all-day reminders.
Excel SP1 has improved compatibility with files moved between Excel 2008 for Mac and Excel 2003/2007 for Windows. Service Pack 1 also includes a number of fixes and improvements for Word 2008 and PowerPoint 2008.