Jim Dalrymple, reporting at MacWorld announced the following news from Microsoft's Mac Business Unit:
Microsoft will delay the release of Office 2008 for Mac until mid-January 2008, representatives of the company’s Macintosh Business Unit announced Thursday.
The long-awaited Intel-native Office, featuring programs such as Word, Excel, Powerpoint, and Entourage, was originally scheduled to be released later this year. Instead, Microsoft said it hoped to release Mac Office 2008 to manufacturing in December, which would allow it to release the product at the January 2008 Macworld Conference and Expo in San Francisco.
This is bad news for those of us who need some of the advanced functionality in Mac Office to collaborate with folks in the Windows world. Track Changes, in particular, is a compatibility issue that keep from from switching off Microsoft entirely on the Mac. It's so commonly used in the work I do that I simply can't afford to rely on another suite or set of products. I was pretty excited about the changes I've been hearing about in this next release but I guess I'll just have to continue muddling along with Office 2004 on my MacBook a while longer.
That, or I need to just bite the bullet and use only Office 2007 in Parallels (serious overhead) and just remove Office 2004 from the Mac. Once Leopard arrives, I plan to reevaluate my Bootcamp thinking and may ultimately end up partitioning and dual-booting. Or I may just throw my hands up in abject defeat and do this kind of work on my Tablet PC and forget about everything-on-one-PC scenarios entirely. I've already found a solution for cross-platform, work from any device, online/offline productivity for less complex documents and where the use of Track Changes is not mandated. I'll be posting about that sometime soon, once the software/service I'm using is officially announced.
I know that Office is a big complex product and I'm sure there are legitimate reasons why MBUmade this decision but I'm increasingly feeling like Microsoft has some deep-rooted issues they need to address. More and more, it feels like everything they produce has a very good likelihood of slipping from its announced ship date. That does not bode well for them in the long run. The impact on SOHO and SMB customers is significant. The implications for Microsoft's relationship with the enterprise is potentially catastrophic if they cannot hit their dates and provide a reasonable level of predictability.
UPDATE: On the virtualization front, VMWare has announced that Fusion, their Mac OS product will be released on August 6th for $79.99 (same price as Parallels). Between now and August 5th, you can pre-order Fusion for $39.99. You'll get a license key instantly which can be used with the Release Candidate currently available or you can wait until the official release is available next week. Either way, it's a sweet deal from a longtime leader in the space.