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Microsoft Mac Business Unit announces details of next version of Office for Mac

With Microsoft Office for Mac still owning a hefty portion of the Mac software market, it's always news when the Mac Business Unit decides to spill the beans on their product plans for the future.TUAW's Michael Rose was on the press call this morning and noted the headlines, with details in the press release in the 2nd half of the post:
  • Next month, Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac will be trimmed down to 2 editions: Home/Student and Business Edition. The new SKUs for Business Edition 2008 will be available next month. This makes more sense than the 3 editions currently available.
  • The Office 2008 Business Edition includes Entourage Web Services Edition & Microsoft Document Connection
  • Entourage Web Services Edition ships today (August 13, 2009)
  • Office 2008 Business Edition has extra templates, clip art and bundled Lynda.com training lessons
  • Upgrade costs for 2008 Business Edition $240, full licenses $340; Entourage Web Services update will be free for existing Office 2008 users
  • One More Thing: The next Mac Office version will be ready by holiday season 2010, and includes a 'brand new application' -- Microsoft Outlook for Mac (!)
  • Outlook for Mac will be a Cocoa app, will sync tasks and notes, and has a new database supporting Spotlight searches; IRM for confidential data controls.
  • There was no announcement from Microsoft on any Office for iPhone development to date
  • Visual Basic returns in Office 2010
See the continuation of this post for the full press release from the Mac BU.REDMOND, Wash. - Aug. 13, 2009 - Microsoft Corp.'s Macintosh Business Unit (MacBU) today shared details about the next version of Microsoft Office for Mac, announcing that a new application, Outlook for Mac, will replace Entourage for Mac. MacBU is providing this early information to meet the planning needs of enterprise customers. For current Entourage users, Microsoft Entourage 2008 for Mac, Web Services Edition is available today, providing performance and reliability improvements and enabling users to sync Tasks, Notes and Categories. These updates demonstrate the team's commitment to meet Mac users' productivity needs and to improve the overall Office experience. MacBU also announced a simplified SKU lineup to help make product selection more intuitive for customers. The new lineup introduces Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac Business Edition in addition to the current offering of Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac Home and Student Edition.

"It is an exciting time for the MacBU with updates to our current products and the first public announcement about the next version of Office for Mac. For several years we have focused on providing the best Microsoft Exchange client for the Mac, and the Web Services Edition delivers that today for Entourage users," said Eric Wilfrid, general manager for the MacBU at Microsoft. "Outlook for Mac will bring features our customers have long requested - such as Information Rights Management - that make working across platforms even easier. I think people will see that this move to Outlook for Mac is more than just a name change."

A New Outlook for Mac Users

The infrastructure changes in Entourage 2008, Web Services Edition, provide more agility in development for the future - marking the first step in delivering Outlook for Mac. Web Services Edition provides faster data synchronization so current Entourage users on Exchange will experience improved e-mail and calendaring support. The beta was launched earlier this year and has since been used by several large enterprise customers including NASA and Wesleyan University. Entourage 2008, Web Services Edition is available to current Entourage users on Office 2008 for Mac SP2, with all updates applied, on Exchange 2007 SP1 RU4 or later. More information can be found athttp://www.microsoft.com/mac/itpros/entourage-ews.mspx.

Outlook for Mac releasing in the next version reflects the team's commitment to further develop the Mac's leading productivity suite. This new application will deliver significant changes - ultimately allowing for increased productivity across platforms, which continues to be the top request of enterprise customers. The MacBU today shared a few of the features that will be in Outlook for Mac, including these:

Cocoa. Built from the ground up using Cocoa providing users with improved integration with the Mac OS

New database. A high-speed file-based database with support for backing up files with Time Machine and Spotlight searching

Information Rights Management. Helps prevent sensitive information from being distributed to or read by people who do not have permission to access the content

"Microsoft Outlook and Exchange Server have been a cornerstone of communications and collaboration for our enterprise customers," said Takeshi Numoto, corporate vice president of the Office product management group at Microsoft. "Today's release of the Web Services Edition strengthens Exchange connectivity for Entourage customers and sets the stage for the move to the new application - Outlook for Mac. These updates continue Microsoft and the MacBU's tradition of delivering the most complete solution to help customers manage their time, and better share their information and collaborate with others."

Introducing Business Edition - Choose the Right Office for You

Based on customer and partner feedback, the MacBU identified the need for a refreshed product line, and the new Office 2008 for Mac lineup ensures that customers can choose the right product to fit their needs at the right price. The lineup now includes two Office 2008 editions: Office 2008 for Mac Home and Student Edition (currently on store shelves), and the new Office 2008 for Mac Business Edition.

The new Office 2008 Business Edition features a powerful suite of tools, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Entourage, in addition to new features designed to help users manage their business, organize their data and present a professional image. In addition, Exchange Server support and reliable compatibility with Windows-based Office software takes collaboration and productivity to the next level. New features in Office 2008 Business Edition include these:

Entourage 2008 for Mac, Web Services Edition. Improves performance, brings new features and support for the latest version of Exchange Server

Microsoft Document Connection for Mac. Helps improve access and browsing to documents on SharePoint Products and Technologies and Microsoft Office Live Workspace

New art. More than 200 business-related templates and professional clip art

lynda.com training. Training for beginning to advanced users by lynda.com Inc.

Availability and Pricing

Office 2008 for Mac Business Edition will launch on Sept. 15, 2009, and will be available for pre-order on Aug. 18 for the estimated retail price of $399.95 (U.S) and $239.95 (U.S) for customers eligible for Version Upgrade. Office 2008 for Mac Home and Student Edition is currently available for the estimated retail price of $149.95 (U.S.) for the full retail version. The free Entourage 2008 for Mac, Web Services Edition, can be downloaded at http://www.microsoft.com/mac/downloads.mspx?link_name=downloads.

About Microsoft Macintosh Business Unit

The Macintosh Business Unit (MacBU) at Microsoft is a leading developer of software and online products for the Macintosh platform. The group is composed of Mac product experts dedicated to creating innovative software for Mac customers worldwide. For 25 years, Microsoft has developed award-winning software for the Mac. In January 2008, the MacBU released Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac, a productivity suite that includes the e-mail application and personal information manager Entourage 2008, Word 2008, Excel 2008, PowerPoint 2008 and Messenger for Mac 7.0. More information about the MacBU and Microsoft Macintosh products is available at http://www.microsoft.com/mac.

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq "MSFT") is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

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With Microsoft Office for Mac still owning a hefty portion of the Mac software market, it's always news when the Mac Business Unit decides...