Microsoft on Thursday took the wraps off its forthcoming Office for Mac 2011 desktop suite. The software�not surprisingly, given the sudden ubiquity of sites like Facebook and Twitter�is big on collaboration and social networking tools. "Recently, you've asked for better ways to work with colleagues and friends anywhere, anytime, across platforms," said Microsoft. With that in mind, Mac Office 2011 features a number of new co-authoring tools that allow users in multiple locations to view and collaborate on the same file, whether it's in Word, PowerPoint, or Excel. A feature called Presence Everywhere aims to further enhance the collaborative experience by providing real-time status updates on who is working on a file. "Co-authoring improves the processes of working together, removing the pain and frustration of multiple versions, lost edits, or even trying to set a time for the group to meet," said Microsoft.
Mac Office 2011 also offers a direct connection to Microsoft Office Web Apps, the company's cloud-based version of the desktop suite. Users can store and access documents created on their desktop from any location with an Internet connection by uploading them to Web Apps. Web Apps will debut alongside Office 2010, the next Windows version of the product. Office 2010 is scheduled to ship in June. Mac Office 2011 will also feature a revamped interface. The company's frequent GUI redesigns are often a source of frustration for customers who've mastered previous versions, but the software maker insists the new changes are subtle and worthwhile. "We took your feedback and haven't completely rearranged what you know and love," Microsoft said, calling the new elements an "evolution" of the Office 2008 Elements Gallery that still retains the classic Mac menu and Standard Toolbar.
Also, 80% of Mac Office's most commonly used features will be present in the software's default view, according to the company. The new version of Mac Office also includes Outlook for the first time, as Microsoft has ditched its Entourage e-mail environment. The company on Thursday disclosed for the first time that Mac Outlook users will be able to import their .PST (Personal Storage Table) files directly from Windows versions of the program. Microsoft said Mac Office 2011 "will be available later this year," but did not provide a more specific release timetable.
Mac Office 2011 Unveiled -- InformationWeek