Microsoft Unveils Mac Office 2008 SP2
Microsoft's Macintosh Business Unit announced this week the release of Service Pack 2 for Mac Office 2008.
SP2 (also known as Mac Office 12.2.0) contains the standard security, stability and performance updates along with a host of improvements for PowerPoint, Word and Excel. A noteworthy addition is access to Office Live Workspace, which is Microsoft's online space for document storage and collaboration -- something already available to PC Office users.
"Macs are definitely gaining market share in the business sector," said Michael Cherry, research vice president for operating systems at Directions on Microsoft, in a telephone interview. "This service pack appears to have a lot of enhancements that will make Macs easier to use in the office."
One new feature, Document Connection, is a desktop application that integrates with SharePoint and Office Live Workspace for collaborative computing. According to Office for Mac Team blog, Document Connection also includes improved support for Safari, Apple's Web browser.
The focus on online apps in Office is part of a general trend.
"Office for Mac has always lagged the standard versions of Office," said Sheri McLeish, analyst at Forrester Research. "But, with the advancements of mobile computing devices such as the iPhone, there is a need for Microsoft to address this trend and develop applications for the world of Mac."
Forrester calls such trends "technology populism," McLeish said, whereby consumer demand carries technology into the business office. She cites instant messaging as a consumer trend that has become a critical business communications tool in many enterprise environments.
SP2 is available from Mactopia or by Auto Update. There's also a free 30-day trial of Mac Office 2008.
A MacBU team member added a cautionary note on installing SP2. Mac users running the Entourage for Web Services beta should wait to install SP2 until after the MacBU team puts "the final polish on the bits," according to a blog. No indication was made when that would happen. Entourage is a Mac e-mail client that can point to Microsoft Exchange Server.
Herb Torrens is an award-winning freelance writer based in Southern California. He managed the MCSP program for a leading computer telephony integrator for more than five years and has worked with numerous solution providers including HP/Compaq, Nortel, and Microsoft in all forms of media.