Office 2008 For The Mac

I’ve been using Office 2008 for the Mac for about 4 months.  This post provides a few comments about my experiences to date.

First and foremost, I can unequivocally state that this suite of Office products is significantly better than the previous version (Office 2004 for the Mac).  Note that I am running Leopard on a 2007 MacBook Pro.  It looks better, runs faster, and is more compatible with the Windows versions of Office.

  • Installation was a piece of cake and worked perfectly.
  • Many of the features available in Office 2007 for Windows are available in the Mac version.  Notably absent is the ribbon interface.
  • Word, PowerPoint, and Excel all received the template gallery allowing the quick and efficient creation of formatted documents.  The templates are useful for accomplishing typical office related and personal tasks.  One example is Word’s notebook format that’s nice for taking notes during a meeting.
  • Word, PowerPoint and Excel have a formatting palette that launches in a separate window.  It took a while to get used to, but now I use it to quickly access any formatting feature I need.
  • Entourage will be very familiar to Outlook users.   There are few new features, but in my opinion nothing terribly notable.  The exception is My Day, which is a small window that summarizes the day’s calendar items and tasks.  I found it unnecessary and ultimately turned it off.
  • Of all the applications, I think PowerPoint wins the award for most improved.  Objects are placed on slides using the graphics conventions utilized in Office 2007 for Windows.  Things look nice and make the product easier to use.  Rendering of graphics elements is fast and accurate.
  • Finally, the Excel graph creation wizard is much improved and produces graphs that are attractive and easy to format.  Excel has also included a new formula-builder that does a nice job of aiding the user while constructing formulas.  It reminds me of some of the tools in Visual Studio that aid programmers as they write code.

Do I have any complaints?  Amazingly few:

  • Unfortunately, you are not going to like synching your Treo.  Entourage does not come with a conduit.  The solution is to use Apple’s iSynch application and a third party piece of software.  Sadly, there are not many good alternatives here.  Ultimately, the best I could do was the Missing Sync for Palm OS from Mark/Space even though blogs and forums panned is as bad.  Over Bluetooth the sync is a bit slow.  And the Treo to Entourage sync flat out does not work.  If you enter an appointment, or modify a contact in your Treo while out and about, and then sync with your desktop, look out, you will loose your changes.  Sadly, near as I can tell Apple’s solution is buy and iPhone, Microsoft’s solution is buy a windows mobile device, and Treo’s solution is we’re busy surviving don’t bother us.  I’m hoping that Mark/Space will fix the bugs soon.
  • Entourage occasionally crashes, maybe once every week.  I have not been able to figure out why.  The good news, it recovers nicely.
  • Finally, you had better like the color purple if you’re going to use Entourage.  There’s lots of it in the calendar, controls, and My Day.  And for some mysterious reason, you can’t change it.

Bottom line, it’s worth the upgrade.  I believe it’s more efficient that running say Office 2007 for Windows using Parallels.

I welcome your comments,
Mike Brannan