Microsoft delays Office 2008 for Mac until... 2008

Microsoft delays Office 2008 for Mac until... 2008

Summary: 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.

SHARE:
10

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.

Topics: Apple, Hardware, Microsoft

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

10 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Don't be too surprised here

    Why exactly would software for Mac be at the top of Microsoft's "to do" list?

    Seems to me like Mac users should be pleased that Microsoft even writes Office software for Macs, instead of bitching that they don't do it fast enough.


    For the record - I like Macs, so please no accusations of being an MS fan...
    laura.b
    • Mmm.... no

      I don't think so. The fact of the matter is that Microsoft has been in the business of making Mac software as long as there are Macs and Mac Office is a highly profitable SKU for them as it's rarely discounted and never bundled. They committed to a ship date and they've slipped it - for a second time on this release. That's troubling and worthy of discussion, especially in light of their failures in execution with Vista and Office 2007.

      Characterizing my (or anyone else's) reaction to the news that they've slipped the release date again as bitching is a bit of a stretch, don't you think?

      Oh... and I'm glad you like Macs. I do too.
      morchant
      • I'm just saying

        That there is no reason to expect that MS will focus on getting this out quickly. In fact, seeing the problems that they're having with Vista and such, I would expect lots of projects that are far more important to their primary users to get pushed back as well.

        While we're on the topic, I am certified in Office 2007, been using since Beta version, and it's really not much different than Office 2003, besides the interface, and some added goodies that aren't vital to performance. But I don't have the Office software for Mac (that's not what we use our Mac for - we find that for creative and artistic endeavors Macs are the way to go, but for numbers and productivity, PCs get the job done better....Just an opinion :) ), is it less functional than PC Office 2003? If not, then it should suffice just fine for whatever you need it to do. You may not like 2007 (or in this case 2008) because of the total rearrangement of the interface.

        However, I really do like 2007, because I have a lot of reason to need something that doesn't just perform the proper functions, but also looks good when printed out, and 07 has styles, colors, graphics, animations, and layout options that previous incarnations haven't had.

        If you need some of the new style options, then you're just going to have to wait. As is the plight of he who uses his Mac for everything. Why do you think we run two machines?

        I only consider it bitching if there is currently another option - and there is. Mac writes these softwares as well in their own brand (however, I'm with most - give me Office anyday...iWork? wtf? yeah, right...)
        laura.b
    • Microsoft has a separate unit...

      called the Macintosh Business Unit, whose entire purpose is to develop software for
      the Mac. I would think that Office Mac [i]would[/i] be at the top of their "to do" list.
      msalzberg
  • Another option

    Considering this work is important, then why not use your Mac for a boat anchor and go and buy a much cheaper Windows computer with Office 2007.

    If you really need to use applications that the rest of the world and business use, why this obsessive adddiction to the Mac - which is never going to be used in business anyway except at the fringe.

    Seriously, $250 will get you an XP based laptop off eBay - a lot cheaper and less time wasted than trying to get the Mac to perform business work.
    tonymcs1
    • So you're obviously new here

      For the record, I have a well-equipped Lenovo X61 Tablet PC so you're missing the point completely. And flame-baiting by labeling a preference for the Mac as obsessive is downright silly. The fact of the matter is that this is yet another slip in schedule by Microsoft which is noteworthy and of interest to those who work exclusively on the Mac or, like me, work cross-platform. Buying another machine is not a practical option for many people and not just because of cost.

      Also, just for your edification, I get a lot of profitable work done on a daily basis on both machines. Sounds to me like you've never actually used a Mac if you're making this kind of unsupportable statement.
      morchant
  • Track Changes works with NeoOffice

    Marc,

    I don't know if it'll have all the bells and whistles you're looking for, but NeoOffice
    (www.neoffice.org) does work with MS Word's track changes function. I've used it
    for the last couple of years and the folks I exchange documents with never know
    the difference. Granted, it doesn't look as cool as the MS version (changes are
    tracked inline and not within the margins), but it does keep track of various
    contributors and distinguishes their changes by color.

    Oh, did I mention that it's free?

    - HutchTech
    HutchTech
    • Almost forgot...

      I also recently went to an analysis training course which required the use of Excel. I
      had parallels loaded and ready with XP and Office just in case, but the spreadsheet
      within NeoOffice handled all the andvanced functions just fine.

      - HutchTech
      HutchTech
    • I am aware of this - thanks

      NeoOffice is a good alternative and, as far as I know, OpenOffice (on which NeoOffice is built) is the only third-party tool that does support the Track Changes feature in MS Office. I should probably take another look at it to see what the most recent version looks like. I understand the new UI is a lot more Mac-like.

      And of course the price is very attractive ;^)
      morchant
  • On the other hand....

    In writing about Vista and New Office several months ago, James Fallows commented on the special difficulties Microsoft faces in producing software that users throughout the World expect to run flawlessly on all kinds of combinations of hardware, and with a multitude of other software products. I don't know how or why this dynamic might apply to the Mac, where all the boxes out there are made by Apple.

    I don't quite know what to make of the delay in MacOffice2008, but I've generally been quite impressed with what Microsoft has been doing lately. In addtion to Vista (which I don't use) and Office 2007 (which I use and like) I find especially noteworthy their new Expression suite of products. I've been using Expression Web for a while now and find it remarkably good, especially for what's essentially a version 1 product. And their new Dynamics series of products for the enterprise is a notable achievement. I don't know what's been going on in Redmond the past few years, but it appears to me that they've really stepped up their game.
    smithwdoug