Users can download Office for Mac 2011, as the suite is officially known, for free from Microsoft's Web site. They'll be able to use it for 30 days from the time of download, after which a full license must be purchased or the software will stop functioning.
"We know it's important for some of you to be able to test out new features," said Pat Fox, Microsoft's senior director of product management for Mac Office, in a blog post Tuesday. Mac Office 2011 ordinarily starts at $149 for the Home & Student version, while the Home & Business version sells for $279.
"For those that will be trying the suite for the first time, we hope you enjoy some of the new items—Outlook for Mac, new co-authoring tools, Excel Sparklines, Dynamic Reorder in Word & PowerPoint, and more," wrote Fox.
The announcement was coincident with the kick off of the Macworld Expo in San Francisco, where Apple and its partners are expected to make a number of key announcements.
In an accounting move, Microsoft recently shifted sales numbers for Mac Office from its Entertainment & Devices unit to its Business Division, which houses the Windows version of Office.
Caris & Company analyst Sandeep Aggarwal said in a research note that he expects Business Division revenues to be up 9%, to $5.28 billion, when Microsoft reports earnings Thursday for its fiscal second quarter.
Microsoft shares were up 1.53%, to $28.89, fifteen minutes prior to the close of trading Wednesday.