First look at Microsoft Office 2011 for Mac

It’s not due for release until the end of this year but we’ve had chance to take a look at the Beta release of Microsoft Office 2011 for Mac. Microsoft say they’ve been working on it since before the release of Office 2008 and first impressions are, it’s a definite improvement on the latter with a much more tailored Mac interface and user friendly features.

Obviously, the big star is the introduction of Outlook which looks great:

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You can import PST files and it supports Microsoft Information Right’s management giving you control over what recipients can do with messages. You can also search for mail either within Outlook or by using Spotlight.

The rest of the suite has gone through a serious face lift too. It now sports a far more Mac friendly Cocoa interface and rather than having to cycle through menus, you can access everything via the Ribbon in the top Menu Bar.

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The introduction of the ribbon means there are far less annoying floating windows to obscure your document. Also, Microsoft have introduced a new search box in the top right of Office documents that allow you to search for text instantly.

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Those who regularly collaborate on documents with colleagues will be particularly pleased with the new On-Off switch for tracking changes.

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In an attempt to compete with Google Docs, Microsoft have now enabled users to collaborate on documents via Sky Drive. If you do so, a ribbon along the bottom of documents informs you exactly who us editing a document at the same time as you. All you need is a Windows Live ID and then go to File and Share.

All parts of the suite have been given some nice new templates too meaning your documents will look more professional and polished than ever:

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Microsoft have assured that this time round, users should have no problems opening different templates and formats whether they are viewing documents created on either a PC or Mac.

Overall, Office 2011 for Mac looks like Microsoft have finally done Office justice on Mac. It looks better, works better and the introduction of Outlook means it’s going to be an absolute must for those who also use it on Windows.

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