The Microsoft Office
suite is the most popular suite of office programs on the market. The suite includes
a word processor, spreadsheet program, presentation program, and office mail client.
Starting with Office 98 on the Mac, Microsoft has really turned the Mac version into
first class Mac software. In addition to providing full-featured applications, Office
takes full advantage of the Macs features, supports Mac interface standards, and
even incorporates features that aren't available on the Windows platform. With each
version since Office 98 (which now includes Office 2001 and Office X), Microsoft
continues to improve Office and continues to provide excellent support of the Mac
platform. The latest release, Microsoft Office X, is a fully native program designed
specifically for Mac OS X that harnesses the power of Office, the simplicity of Macintosh,
and the stability of Unix.
Installation is very easy. just put the CD in your computer and drag the "Microsoft
Office X" folder to the desired location. It seemed like it did a lot less looking
around on the disk than the old OS 9 versions of Office. Since the files were merely
copied over, the Office programs had to take care of setting up all the extensions
and libraries and what not the first time an Office program was run which usually
took many minutes of grinding. The structure of OS X is different, with the shared
resources handled differently and so the first start up time for a new program is
Once you install the program and open up the folder, you will see five programs of
Office: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Entourage, and a new one called Welcome.
Welcome pops open with a nice OS X looking screen, including the tabs that you
will know and love from the Apple web site. The tabs include Welcome, What's new?,
What's cool?, Need help?, License and Warranty. There's not much more to it, though,
as it serves merely as an introduction to Office's new features.
Entourage is an email client and calendar program, and it works very well. It
has all the features of a modern email program, and a pretty good wizard to get you
all set up. Each mail note contains a list of replies sent and received, just so
you can keep track of it all. It
sports an all-new interface with large buttons that make it easy to navigate among
mail, address book, calendar, and notes displays. The redesigned Calendar window
now consists of three panes, one of which sports a Task List that shows the day's
events. Unfortunately, Entourage still lacks some basic PIM features. You can't print
paper calendar pages that'll fit in your appointment booklet or binder, for instance.
Nor can you sync directly to handheld Palm devices, both features that the free Palm
Word works just like Word 2001, with the addition of beautiful Aqua graphics
(which goes for all the Office X programs) and a few new features.
One very useful task I used Word for is to convert Word documents to HTML. There
are two ways to do this, either by saving all of the document data or just what you
want displayed. If you choose all the data, you get an amazing amount of data in
your HTML file. I don't think much of it is useful for a normal web page. The display
version works fine.
Another nice improvement with
Word is the ability to select text. For example, if you need to format and spell-check
unconnected blocks of text, simply hold down the Command key and use your pointer
to select all the appropriate sections in one fell swoop. This saves you the trouble
of having to choose one text block, apply the format, and then repeat the process
for every area you want to change.
Word X also has a nifty new Contact toolbar that uses the new Merge Manager, allowing
you to export contacts and addresses to Entourage and letting you add addresses to
Word documents. To put a name and an address in your Word file, just choose the name
from the pop-up menu on the Contact toolbar, then click the Include Address button.
Entourage doesn't even need to be opened. I
also used Word's Merge Manager to produce some labels, and it worked well, although
the syntax wasn't explained real well in the Help system, so it took several false
starts to get a good result.
Word has added transparency capabilities into its drawing feature. For example, using
picture importing and text bullets, Word now lets you make custom graphic bullets,
and treats them like regular bullets in documents with bullet lists.
Excel is Microsoft's spreadsheet application, greatly improved in Office X. You can
now customize keyboard commands by using the Customize command in the Tools menu,
and you can now import FileMaker Pro database files. Unfortunately, Excel doesn't
import Microsoft Access database files (and Access is still not available on the
PowerPoint X, the presentation application, appears to have changed the least out
of all the Office programs. There is one new feature called the PowerPoint Package
option. This lets you wrap a presentation and all of its attendant files into one
neat little package, then move it into a single folder. Of course, there's the nice
aqua interface, and the fact that PowerPoint is still the best presentation package
for the Mac.
One of the big benefits of having the Office suite of applications is the way that
the program communicate and interoperate together. As mentioned above, you can send
email through Word without ever having to start up Entourage. You can paste Excel
spreadsheets into Word documents and PowerPoint presentations, edit charts within
Word, and much more.
Although Office X doesn't ship with a printed instruction manual, just like Office
2001, it now includes a well-written 164-page manual in the form of a PDF file called
the Getting Started Book. In addition, Microsoft provides the wonderful Mactopia web site, their Mac support center.
Office X has been
redesigned with a fresh new Aqua interface, supports all Mac OS X features and technologies,
and has Mac-only features like Formatting Palette, Microsoft Word Data Merge Manager,
Microsoft Excel List Manager, and Microsoft PowerPoint Movies. E-mail is made even
easier in Entourage X by allowing connections to Microsoft Exchange servers, Hotmail,
and Mac.com so users can more efficiently manage e-mail online and off. With the
integrated and improved Entourage calendar, you can easily organize your schedule
and set reminders for important events and projects. Office X is compatible with
Office 2001 for Mac, Office 98 Macintosh Edition, Office for Microsoft Windows, AppleWorks
6, and FileMaker Pro 5.5, so you can share files with practically anyone, whether
they use a Mac or a PC. Microsoft
Office X is a great suite of productivity applications, and the perfect addition
to anyone who has braved the waters of OS X.
- Native in OS X
- Beautiful Aqua interface
across the board
- Nice improvements
such as Merge Manager and Formatting Palette
- Excellent integration
- Now comes with a
"Getting Started" PDF
- Steep purchase and
- Still no printed
- Entourage lacks basic
- Not much new in PowerPoint
4 out of 5 Mice