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Office 2007 Translators for Mac Coming

With last week’s release of Office 2007, early adopters who work in heterogeneous system environments -- in business marketing organizations, for example -- are likely to experience some short-term angst.

While Office 2007, with its Office Open XML file formats, is available to volume customers now and will ship to consumers on January 30, current Mac Office users will have to wait until March or April before they can handle files in those formats.

Even then, the free file format converters will be beta test versions, according to a post Tuesday on the Office for Mac Team Blog. How come? Microsoft’s short answer: They’ve been busy.

"Now that Office for Windows has been released, we are working on completing compatibility with the released formats, while also completing other major work such as moving our codebase to the Intel platform," said Microsoft group marketing manager Sheridan Jones in the post.

Microsoft plans to have the final versions of the format converters for current versions of Mac Office ready six to eight weeks after the next version of Office for the Mac ships which, in turn, is scheduled to ship six to eight weeks after Office 2007 reaches general availability. That would put final availability of the converters sometime from late April to late May.

Using the same math, the next release of Office for the Mac, then, is set to bow in mid- to late-March.

So what should users do while they wait?

"For now, we recommend that Mac users advise their friends and colleagues using Office 2007 to save their documents as a ‘Word/Excel/PowerPoint 97-2003 Document’ (.doc, .xls, .ppt) to ensure the documents can be shared across platforms," said Jones’ post.

About the Author

Stuart J. Johnston has covered technology, especially Microsoft, since February 1988 for InfoWorld, Computerworld, Information Week, and PC World, as well as for Enterprise Developer, XML & Web Services, and .NET magazines.

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