by Jacqueline Emigh
Office for Mac 2011, the first release of the Mac-based suite to include Microsoft’s controversial ribbon user interface (UI), is now slated to ship at the end of October in three editions, at pricing ranging from $99 to $279.
Positioned by Microsoft as the Mac-based counterpart to the Windows 7-enabled Office 2010, Office for Mac 2011 is also expected to bring new icons and splash screens, a Template Gallery, more proofing tools, and first-time support for languages such as Russian and Hebrew which read right-to-left rather than left-to-right.
In a statement this week, Microsoft said that Office for Mac 11 will also add two new languages – Russian and Polish – to the 11 supported by its predecessor, Office for Mac 2008.
Also in the statement, Microsoft set late October as the release date for “several regions” – without specifying those regions — and provided US MSRPs for the three editions.
Microsoft did not pinpoint specific capabilities in its press release, but members of Microsoft’s Office for Mac team have already previewed some of the new features in a series of posts to their Mac Mojo blog. Microsoft also released a video demo of the product on the blog last week.
Microsoft’s Mac suite to add ‘MacRibbon’ interface
“The most notable introduction to our new Office 2011 user interface is strikingly new, but readily familiar to Mac and PC users alike. It’s called the ‘Office for Mac ribbon,’ or as we refer to it internally, ‘MacRibbon,'” according to Han-yi Shaw, senior lead program manager at Microsoft responsible for Office User Experience (UX) and Word for Mac.
‘The ‘Mac’ part tells you that it was designed for the Mac, with all of the recognizable attributes that Mac users have come to love; the ‘Ribbon’ part signifies the shared lineage with the ribbon seen in Office 2007 and now Office 2010 for Windows,” wrote Shaw, in a blog post in February.
Not everyone is thrilled with the ribbon interface. “It’s cluttered, with huge icons and takes too much screen estate,” wrote a user named Burst, in a comment posted to the MacStories blog over the past week.
The ribbon, though, will complement but not replace “signature Mac user interface elements such as the menu bar and standard tool bar,” according to Shaw.
The “MacRibbon” will show up in Word, Excel and PowerPoint above the content display area but underneath the Mac menu bar. The standard tool bar will also remain. Users will be able to collapse both the ribbon and the standard tool bar.
Other new features: Template Gallery and Aqua-like icons
When Mac for Office 2011 entered a third round of private beta testing in May, Microsoft talked up new icons designed to reflect the Aqua appearance of Mac OS X, as well as new splash screens for apps in the suite. In July, Microsoft’s MacBU (Mac Business Unit) described a new Template Gallery in Office 2011.
Earlier this week, Microsoft’s Eric Paquin wrote in the Mojo blog that Office Suite for Mac 2001 will also use the same proofing APIs as Microsoft Office 2010, permitting Microsoft and third-party developers to port their proofing tools from Windows to the Mac suite.
Office for Mac 2011 to arrive in three editions
All three editions of the new Mac suite will include Mac versions of Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and Messenger, Microsoft said this week. One of the editions will come with Outlook for Mac, a replacement for the previous Entourage mail client.
The least expensive edition, Microsoft Office for Mac Academic 2011, will be sold online by Microsoft and at authorized academic stores for $99, but it will only be available to higher education students, staff, and faculty.
Microsoft Office for Mac Home and Student 2011, on the other hand, will be priced at $119 for a single install and $149 for a three-install Family Pack aimed at families with more than one Mac in their households.
Microsoft Office for Mac Home and Business 2011, the edition that adds Outlook, will be sold as both a $199 single-install package and a $279 Multi-Pack permitting two installs for a user with two machines.