Microsoft Extends Office Mac 2004 Support
Microsoft extended mainstream support of Office 2004 for Macintosh computers for another five years.
Mainstream support actually ended on Oct. 13, but Microsoft extended it to Jan. 10, 2012. Microsoft made the change to help customers who continue to use Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) with Office for Mac.
Customer interest in continuing to use VBA apparently had a side effect. It kept them from upgrading to the current Office 2008 for Mac productivity suite, which dropped VBA support.
"While most customers have upgraded to Office 2008 for Mac, some have remained on Office 2004 in order to take advantage of Visual Basic for Applications (VBA), which is supported in Office 2004, but did not make it into Office 2008," explained Mike Tedesco, in Microsoft's Mactopia blog.
Microsoft plans to resume support for VBA in the next version of Office for Mac, which is scheduled for public release in the "2010 US holiday season," according to the blog.
"Mainstream support" is Microsoft's technical term for the first phase of product support. For business applications such as Office, this support phase usually lasts five years. Mainstream support includes the delivery of security and nonsecurity hotfixes for free, as well as free incident support.
After mainstream support ends, the product enters the "extended support" phase. In this later five-year stage, users have to pay for requested hotfixes and no longer get free incident support. However, Microsoft will still deliver free security patches.
On top of extending support, Microsoft is also working to integrate its browser-based Office Web Apps for the Mac platform. Currently, these applications, which run in Safari, do not integrate with Office 2008 for Mac, but Microsoft is working on the problem.
"Today, Mac users can view and edit documents stored on Windows Live SkyDrive from the browser only," stated Kurt Schmucker in a Mactopia blog post. "However, the team is developing ways to work with the Web Apps direct from Office for Mac."
Another problem is that extended fonts on the local machine won't transfer upward into the Internet cloud. To maintain document fidelity, Schmucker recommends that users select fonts from the "Windows Office Compatible font collection" that was installed with Office 2008 for Mac.
Microsoft unveiled Office Web Apps in mid-September. They are currently undergoing private beta testing and will be publicly launched in the first half of next year, Microsoft has said.
Kurt Mackie is online news editor for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.