Review: Office 2008 For Mac Brings Modest Improvements
The first major release of Office for the Mac in four years shines in some respects, with innovative new features in Word and PowerPoint. But overall, it still lags behind Office for Windows.
After a number of delays, Microsoft finally has Office 2008 for Mac ready for release Tuesday; it's the first update to the platform in four years and the first Office product to run natively on Intel-based Macs.
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For those of you who upgraded to Office 2007 for Windows from an Office 2003 installation, you were probably shocked by the major differences. The same isn't true for the upgrade from Office 2004 for Mac to Office 2008 for Mac. In fact, each program looks virtually the same except for a few cosmetic upgrades thrown in to add some style to an otherwise vanilla design.
In certain key areas -– most notably Excel -- the Mac version of Office still falls well short of the Windows version, and if you're a user of both platforms, the new Mac functionality isn't going to be enough to sway you; I'd recommend using the Windows version of the suite in that scenario.
In order to test the platform, I typed up documents on Word and used some of its features like graphing and table drawing to see how well it performed. With Excel, I input long formulas, opened up a few pivot tables and linked galore to get a feel for its performance. The same level of testing was applied to each of the other installations.
It should be noted before we get into the full-fledged individual review that Office 2008 for Mac runs much faster than its predecessor, Office 2004. Unlike the latter, Office 2008 runs natively on Intel-based Macs, which eliminates the awkward slow-downs of previous versions and generally creates a far less annoying experience. I tested the software on a 2.4GHz Core 2 Duo Intel-based aluminum iMac running 1GB of RAM on Apple's new operating system, Mac OS X Leopard.