Mac Office 2008 on track for Macworld premiere

A January 15 launch for Mac OS X Office upgrade is on track

A Microsoft development group has signed off on Office for Mac 2008, putting the new suite on track for its debut at next month's Macworld trade show.

"Our final build has left the building and is en route to manufacturing sites abroad," said Geoff Price of Microsoft's Mac Business Unit (MBU), in a post to the team's blog this week. Microsoft dubs that step as RTM (release to manufacturing) to indicate it has handed off a product for duplication, packaging and distribution.

The staging to RTM means that Office for Mac 2008 is on schedule for its January 15 launch at Macworld Expo & Conference, which opens the day before in San Francisco. Macworld is one of two events each year where Apple and its partners often roll out major new releases.

Office 2008 was originally slated for a 2007 debut, but in August the head of MBU pushed back the date, citing quality issues with the code that could not be resolved in time to ship this year.

Even in this newest post, however, several Office for Mac users remained irate that Microsoft had been so close-lipped about the 2008 version, in particular on details of the suite's email client, Entourage, and how it will work with Exchange Server.

"We still haven't heard anything about the basic stuff in the mail part of Entourage, though everything else has been talked about. There's only one reason for that: it's exactly the freaking same," said someone identified as Josh S. in a comment attached to Price's post.

Office for Mac 2008 includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Entourage, and will sell for between $US150 (Home and Student Edition) and US$500 (Special Media Edition).

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Gregg Keizer

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