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Office v. X for Mac to Ship in November

Microsoft Corp. Wednesday officially unveiled a new version of its Office productivity suite that it says is designed to run on Apple Computer Inc.’s Macintosh OS X operating system.

The software giant announced plans to ship the new Mac Office version – which it dubbed Office v. X for Mac – sometime in the November time frame. Microsoft unveiled its most recent Office package for the Macintosh, Office 2001, in October of last year.

Office v. X will run on the revamped Macintosh OS X 10.1 that Apple is expected to release sometime over the next several weeks.

Microsoft says that Office v. X will fully support the feature enhancements of Macintosh OS X, but cautions that the new Office package will run only on Macintosh OS 10.1. Users running OS X versions other than OS X 10.1 must first upgrade their operating systems before installing Office v.X, the software giant said. Users running Macintosh operating system versions prior to OS X will not be able to upgrade to the next-generation Office release.

In addition to the productivity applications found in Windows-specific versions of Office, Office v. X will include Entourage, an e-mail management program; version 2.1 of the software giant’s instant messaging software; and a new version of Windows Media player for the Mac.

Microsoft says that users who are currently running Office 2001 will be able to upgrade to Office v. X for $149; users of “legacy” Office packages will be able to upgrade for $299; barring upgrades, the complete Office v. X suite can be had for $499, while individual Office applications are expected to sell for $399.

Shipment of Office v. X is widely anticipated by Mac aficionados because it’s among the first applications to fully leverage the unique features of Mac OS X, along with the ultra-aesthetic look-and-feel of OS X’s new Aqua interface.

According to Edward Ko, a network coordinator with the Pennsylvania State University who manages a raft of Windows and Macintosh clients, Apple itself hasn’t delivered very many OS X-specific applications for its flagship operating system. “It’s ironic that Microsoft is doing this, because Apple itself doesn’t have much out there for [OS X],” he comments.

As a result of the lack of available applications, and because of problems with Mac OS X’s “Classic” mode – which lets OS X function as a Mac OS 9-type system – Ko says that his business unit made a decision not to upgrade to OS X on its client machines: “We started to run a lot of test boxes, but being as how there’s almost no software that natively runs in the OS, and because things that run in ‘Classic’ mode aren’t very stable, we just couldn’t see doing it.”

Because of this, Ko speculates that IT managers in most corporate environments will probably give Office v. X a pass.

“As long as the features are similar or the technologies are the same, I really can’t see how they need to put out the products in tandem,” he says. “When it comes down to it, Office 2001 for the Mac and even Office XP [for Windows] are going to be a lot similar, and they certainly enjoy file compatibility with one another.”

About the Author

Stephen Swoyer is a Nashville, TN-based freelance journalist who writes about technology.

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