Microsoft announces Office 2011 for Mac

On Tuesday, Microsoft announced the official release of Office 2011 for Mac, featuring a completely reworked user interface

At a product launch event in New York Monday, Microsoft gave the media a day-early peek at Mac Office 2011, which went on sale at retail outlets and via Microsoft this morning. Eric Wilfrid, general manager of Microsoft's Mac business unit, explains how Mac Office 2011 is faster than previous versions, not only in startup, but in the execution of key tasks.

Among the key differences in the new Mac Office over old versions is the appearance for the first time of a Mac version of Outlook, which takes the place of Entourage, which a Microsoft representative said was simply not meeting the needs of users. Also included in Mac Office 2011 are new versions of Word, Excel and PowerPoint and a new user interface based on the ribbon menu interface first featured in the 2007 edition of Office for Windows.

While the new suite does offer a raft of new Web-enabled features like Office 2010 for Windows, it's not a clone of its Windows sibling and offers some features that have yet to turn up on the Windows side. For example, in the new Mac Outlook, you can clean up the view of your calendar by assigning categories to appointments and then filtering the view of the calendar by category. For example, by unchecking the box for the "Personal" category, all such appointments will temporarily disappear from your calendar.

Office 2011 comes in three different versions: Home and Student and costs $120 (or $150 for a family pack with three licenses). The base package doesn't include Outlook, which is only available with the Home and Business edition, which retails for $200 (with a "multi-pack" of two licenses available for $280), or with the Academic edition, which costs $100.

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