The next version of Microsoft Office for Mac won't hit in the latter half of 2007, as originally expected, according to Microsoft. The new ship target for Office for Mac 2008 is January 2008.
Microsoft officials are attributing the delay to insufficient quality of current test versions of the product. ArsTechnica quotes Mac BU head Craig Eisler with a further explanation:
"'There was no one thing that caused the push—it was more of a perfect storm,' Eisler told Ars yesterday. 'The switch to Intel processors, the switch to different tools in the development stream, the switch in formats with Office—all of it presented different roadblocks for the team, and we wanted to make sure we could address all of those issues.'"
Update: Eisler provided more information in a blog post to the Mac Mojo blog on August 2. He said Microsoft is aiming for retail availability by mid-January, and volume-license availability in Q1 2008.
"We’re in an “all hands on deck” mode right now to ensure Office 2008 gets finished on time, and so you will not see final versions of our RDC client or file format converters until sometime after we ship Office," Eisler said.
"Starting in September, we are planning a series of “sneak peeks” to show you more of the features and functionality of this release. I’m very pleased that we can soon start sharing more of what the team has been up to – stay tuned," he added in his blog entry.
The 2008 version of the Office for Mac product is set to sport its own Ribbon-like user interface that will feature a new Mac-specific "Elements Gallery." The other key Mac-specific feature is My Day – a new stand-alone application that offers a task list manager for at-a-glance schedule and task viewing.
On a related note, I've been puzzling over the status of the promised file converters allowing Mac Office users to read Microsoft Office 2007-formatted documents.
In January, Microsoft officials said Microsoft was planning to release a beta of the Windows-to-Mac file-format converters this spring. The final version of the converters wasn't slated to hit until six to eight weeks after Office 2008 for Mac ships, they said.
On July 31, Microsoft posted a new (0.2) beta of the Microsoft Office Open XML File Format Converter for Mac. That beta allows Open XML files to be converted to a format "that is compatible with Microsoft Office 2004 for Mac and Microsoft Office v. Xfor Mac." The converter doesn't seem to handle anything other than the word-processing components of the Office suites, however.
If Microsoft sticks to the original converter timetable, the Office Mac converters won't hit until spring 2008, at best. Will there be OOXML converters for functions other than word-processing? If so, when?