REVIEW: MICROSOFT OFFICE 2008 FOR MAC

‘The world Standard in Business Productivity’

Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac, primarily made up of four Core Applications, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Entourage is available in several versions:

Home and Student Edition ($199.00), Special Media Edition ($649.00) Standard Edition ($549.00) and of course, upgrade editions for current owners of previous versions at reduced prices. Office 2008 can be installed on up to three Macs and arrives with three separate Product Keys. In addition to file compatibility with the rest of the outside world, the 2008 release of MS Office has provided users of Macintosh computers with a universal version of Office that runs natively on the Intel Macs. Anyone familiar with previous versions of MS Office will find the look and feel of MS Office 2008 quite similar and therefore will be quite comfortable migrating to this most recent version.

After opening the retail box, inserting the CD and following the simple installation procedures for MS Office 2008, it is advisable to download and install the most current update available from MS website. As stated on the MS website  This update contains several improvements to enhance stability, compatibility, and performance.”  From my research, it should be noted that some Office 2008 users have reported the need to re-install Office from scratch, in order for the updates to work. Therefore performing all the current updates at the time of original installation will provide the best chances of success in updating Office 2008 without having to deal with frustrating upgrade/installation issues. For the Office update visit Mactopia-MS Office 2008 update

MS Word, the industry standard word processor will probably be the application most used from the Office 2008 suite. You can configure Word through the PREFERENCES MENU for your particular needs. The first thing I would do, is to go to Preferences, AUTO CORRECT MENU and make sure to UNCHECK  ‘Show Auto complete tip for Auto Text, Contacts and Dates.’  Leaving this feature ‘checked’, Word will automatically complete your thoughts for you as you type, by inserting information it retrieves from your contacts and dates database.  ‘Auto Complete’ will drive any normal person completely crazy, but thankfully it can be disabled and your sanity can be retained. Under the PREFERENCE DIALOGUE BOX, go to the EDIT menu and CHECK  ‘Drag and Drop Editing’. Drag and Drop is one of my favourite features and it would be a shame if Drag and Drop  was overlooked simply because it wasn’t activated by the user. Something that I need to do almost every time I create a new WORD document is to re-locate the MARGINS, left and right and top and bottom. The ability to ‘Drag and Pull’ Left and Right Margins as well as Bottom and Top Margins is a welcome convenience to MS Word 2008.

If you are searching for the ‘TEXT TO SPEECH’ function in MS Word, you will not find it, but do not despair. Text to Speech is no longer found as a Menu selectable item of  MS Word as it is now built into  Mac OS Leopard 10.5.6. Therefore, if you wish to have Word read your document to you, first  you need to create an initial configuration in the SYSTEM PREFERENCE/ SPEECH panel and then SELECT the text in MS Word and use the ‘KEY COMBINATION’ to have the Apple OS read the selected text. It is easier to actually do, than it is to explain – for instructions visit this ‘Apple Tips’ page.

But MS Word still maintains a zillion other powerful features that are very useful which is why MS Office 2008 Mac can be such a valuable tool – The least of which is to provide compatibility with ‘Windows’ file versions including the new file standard (.docx). Ultimately the product can achieve almost every necessary word processing task, with a little research in the MS Word HELP MENU and on MACTOPIA, any document creation dream can probably come true.

MS Excel, notably the world’s standard in spreadsheet programs, would likely be the next product most business users rely on. Once again, the 2008 version of EXCEL would be quite familiar to anyone who has used previous versions of Excel. DRAG and DROP editing, Automatic Calculations and easy Formatting make it possible for those of us who are not accountants, to configure mathematical formulas and make numeric presentations attractive to look at and easier to understand.

Entourage – MS Office 2008 attractive new splash screens for each Office module

If you have been using ENTOURAGE  for eMailing purposes, you won’t lose your way using the 2008 version. With the exception of the addition of ‘My Day’ much of the look and feel of Entourage has remained consistent with earlier releases. ‘My Day’ is a stand alone, related program that will pop up as an independent reminder of appointments that you have listed in your Calendar. It can be somewhat useful but, should the constant pop up reminders become annoying, it can be disabled. Support for Palm has gone the way of the dinosaur, but loading your calendar appointments onto your Apple iPod Touch for example can be accommodated using Apples  ‘iSync’. The information you enter in the Entourage Calendar will not only sync to your iPod, it will also be copied to iCal, Mail and Adress Book should you ever need to make the transfer.

PowerPoint presentations are invaluable business and academic presentation tools. Even if you never find yourself in the position to have to create an actual presentation, chances are you will want to view POWERPOINT presentations sent to you by others. Apples’ Keynote will open most PowerPoint presentations, but best compatibility will be provided by using PowerPoint  to open these PowerPoint  presentations regardless of whether the original was created on Windows or Mac.

When purchasing the Office 2008 Mac with EXPRESSION MEDIA, you are getting a program that offers to manage your digital assets, CDs and media cards. As a Mac user, I am comfortable sticking with the programs provided with the Mac OS such as  iTunes and iPhoto as I already know how to use them and they are more than adequate for my needs. I suspect that WINDOWS users would be comfortable with the look and feel of  Expression Media which would provide a suitably familiar ‘Windows’ style environment for those users with such needs.

MS Office 2008 is an extremely powerful, very configurable, feature rich collection of business programs, with excellent cross platform compatibility. For someone who is used to working with Word, Excel, Entourage and PowerPoint, there is comfort knowing that these classic business tools are available and still supported for the Macintosh on the Leopard OS and Intel Macs. If the software provided by Apples iWork does not meet your needs, at least you know that you can still get hold of the Microsoft family of business productivity software that once set ‘THE  standard’ and are used the world round.

Trivia –  In 1985, Excel was released by Microsoft for the MacIntosh, almost two years before releasing Excel for Windows (in Nov. 1987).

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