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Office for Mac 2011 Available on October 26

Microsoft announced today that Office for Mac 2011 will be available from retail outlets on Oct. 26, 2010.

The Microsoft productivity suite for the Apple Mac operating system can be preordered at Amazon.com, which is the retail outlet that had leaked the exact release date. Microsoft had earlier said that Office for Mac 2011 would appear in retail outlets in "late October," but the exact launch date wasn't disclosed at that time.

A video by the Mac Business Unit team outlined a few more new features to be seen with this release. Microsoft has improved the launch speed of applications in Office for Mac 2011 over its predecessor, Office for Mac 2008. For instance, charting takes less than a second in the new productivity suite vs. 28 seconds in the current release, according to Kurt Schmucker, senior evangelist for the Macintosh Business Unit, in the video.

Microsoft has a full-screen view feature in Word for reading or writing that removes "all of the UI" in the writing mode, according to the video. Another feature, called "dynamic reorder," separates elements of a page into layers, which then can be reordered graphically. The dynamic reorder feature works with both documents and presentations, according to the video.

Retail pricing was announced last month. Microsoft will ship two editions of Office for Mac 2011 -- a Home and Student edition ($119) and a Business edition ($199). There's also an Office for Mac Academic 2011 edition priced at $99.

The Home and Student edition will not include "Outlook for Mac," which is the new e-mail client in Office for Mac 2011. However, the Business and Academic editions will have it. Outlook for Mac is Microsoft's replacement for its Entourage e-mail client program.

So far, Microsoft has not released much information about integration with other Microsoft products, although Office for Mac 2011 will be compatible with Microsoft's Office Web Apps. Also, Microsoft restored Visual Basic for Applications functionality in Office for Mac 2011. In the current release, Microsoft had removed that functionality.

In other news, Microsoft announced a new perk for Windows users of Office. Microsoft has eased its licensing restrictions on Business Contact Manager (BCM) for Outlook. BCM helps with managing client information and customizing business forms. It was restricted to Microsoft's volume licensing customers, but that change cut off its use by many of Microsoft's small business customers.

Last week, the company said that its decision on restricting BCM's availability was "a mistake." Microsoft has now broadened the availability of BCM to small business users via a free upgrade offer. The offer is restricted to certain editions of Office, as described in this Microsoft blog.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.

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