Office Delay? Ya Don’t Say.


No, seriously, you don’t say (or shouldn’t), because it isn’t true. Over the last few days, some Mac sites have been reporting that the Universal Binary version of Office for Mac (officially unnamed, but currently code-named Office 12) has been delayed, but there is no delay or deviation from our development schedule. We’re hitting our milestones, checking in our features, and making the move to Intel as planned. We’ve totally moved from Code Warrior to Xcode, so we’ve crested that hill. We usually ship 6 – 8 months after the availability of Office for Windows so we can do compatibility testing. This has been our shipping cycle for ages, and we’re right on track. In fact, for Office 12, we’ve not even officially announced a launch date (but when we do, we should do it here first).

Comments (45)

  1. LuckyLindy says:

    Important clarification…try to get it out to the sites. And looking forward to it, too.

  2. LuckyLindy says:

    Important clarification…try to get it out to the sites. And looking forward to it, too.

  3. Aaron Adams says:

    Excellent. I’m happy to see a large company come out to quickly and clearly put false rumors out of our misery. The internet echo chamber (especially when it comes to Mac rumors) can be a destructive thing, and I’m glad to see such stupidity stopped in its tracks.

  4. So it’s not the Mac version that is delayed.  It’s the Windows version that is delayed causing the 6-8 month delivery window to start later onthe Mac version.  

  5. I hope that we Arabic Support on it …. by the way Arab use Mac 2 and they use MS office 2 , im taking about Arabic support only to read and write on Arabic is it a hard thing to do !!!!

  6. Ted Pearlman says:

    Reassure us with some juicy tidbits – like the new features of a massively updated entourage, for instance!

    Thanks,

    Ted

    Denver

  7. When you guys get around to officially naming the product, please don’t call it “Office 2007” even if it is released in 2007 – that will really be too confusing (ie because of the similarity to the win office product). Even if you get it out in mid 2007, I think that you should call it “Office 2008”.

  8. Jonathan Sturtridge says:

    Well done guys – nice to see that you both read the blogs and are open enough to give us an update.

  9. Mac User says:

    So the MacBU has to wait for its Windows counterpart before it ships a now downsized product two years after Apple announces the shift to Intel?  And eons after Apple urged all developers to switch to XCode?  Couldn’t you ship it when it’s ready, and if you need an update for compatibility with Big Brother just release a patch?

    And since cross-platform scripting has been tossed aside, why the renewed reverence for compatibility?

    This is marketing; your company as a whole want to sell Windows so Windows products get a priority release.  Mac products are pushed to the back.  Don’t get me wrong, MacBU does a very good job under the management it’s given.  If given more independence, I think you’d do a lot better.

  10. I am glad to hear that Office 12 is still on schedule 😉

  11. jmandes says:

    I agree with Ted from Denver. I’d feel much better about waiting almost a year for such an important update from Microsoft, especially the upgrade to the Universal Binary capability, if I had more information, a few specifics. Also, the long wait poses a possible risk, I believe, to Microsoft. Until the Universal Binary versions come through, I’ll be using Mellel II and Mariner Write, both of which are Universal Binary formats and both of which are excellent word processors. It’s the first time I’ve ever used any word processor other than Word and I have to say I am really pleased with them, especially their clean functionality and their price. And who knows? I might just stick with them after a year’s worth of documents have been produced. I realize that mass defections to other word processors are highly unlikely, but it’s something to consider.

    Thank you. John, Hershey, PA.

  12. jon honeyball says:

    The only massive juicy piece of information is the complete neutering of the product, by the removal of VBA.

    All else is merely tinsel and window dressing

    Jon

    Contrib Editor

    PCPro

  13. Mike Perry says:

    Once you’re done with this, is there any chance of our getting a Word-lite with the user interface and feature set of Word 5.1 (adding only as-you-type spell checking)? Like others, fifteen years after it came out, it remains my favorite world processor.

    Word has far too many features for many users, particularly school kids and writers who want to focus on content rather than formatting.

  14. iFrodo says:

    About compatibility between Windows and Mac version of Office, will this next version of Office for Mac (codenamed Office 12) will have a better, or even perfect, support of Windows Meta FIle importation, because as of now when a document have Windows MetaFile files in it, they, most of the time, get badly displayed.

  15. ADAXL says:

    Why is there a 6-8 month delay after the release of Windows office to begin with? Apple switched to Intel over six month ago. I do not get the compatibility argument. Can’t Microsoft set up compatibility standards (file formats, etc.) and stick with it? This does not speak for MS. I’ve noticed that the number of MS products for the Mac has declined sharply over the last few years. First MSIE for Mac (it was getting old, but old MSIE 5 looked really good, much better than on windows), Media Player has been discontinued (there’s flip4mac, but it doesn’t support DRM or PlaysForSure) and Virtual PC 2007 is Windows-only.

  16. Michael Stango says:

    Just curious, are you guys going to end this misguided Entourage/Exchange experiment in Office 2007 and finally give Entourage some meaningful Exchange capabilites (read: MAPI support, .PST support, and *full* feature parity with the ancient Outlook 2001)?

    The current connectivity is, frankly, execrable. We (I know I speak for more than just myself here) have been hanging in there since Entourage 10.1.4, hoping things would improve– but they have not.

    I support small Mac-based design departments in some large companies, and the internal IT people there are not in the least bit interested in changing the configuration of their Exchange servers so Entourage can be used. They are still stuck using Outlook 2001 in Classic, and that’s going to become a real problem now that no shipping Mac can run Classic.

    Even my clients who do have their servers set up to play nice with Entourage feel frequent pain because of the way Entourage works. It’s a real mess, and I’m very glad that I finally have a place to complain about it that might actually be seen by the people with the power to make things right.

    Please, for the love of all that is holy, give up on your current Exchange connectivity method in Entourage and give us a real Mac Outlook client.

    Michael Stango

    ACSA, MCP

  17. Josh says:

    Look forward to it!

    Keep up the good work!

    -josh

  18. John Lockwood says:

    Regarding Arabic support. This refers to the fact that Office 2004 (and Office v.X before it) do not support right to left languages like Arabic and Hebrew. Microsoft for years have been blaming Apple for this by saying it is due to the Carbon text API not providing the necessary functionality. Of course they forget to mention it was Microsoft that chose to do a quick (and very dirty) port to Carbon in Mac OS X in the first place.

    Note: Mac OS X has supported right to left text in Cocoa for years and other products use this to great effect. Mellel is the current leader in this area.

    The Israeli Government even banned all Microsoft products for a time over this issue! See http://www.macobserver.com/article/2003/10/15.4.shtml

    Now that Microsoft have been FORCED to rewrite Office as a full fledged Mac OS X application are we likely to see this resolved (at long last) or will Microsoft come up with yet another excuse why it cannot be done (and of course blame someone else for their own failings)? This of course has been the behaviour of the Mac Messenger team for years (each year they come out with yet another excuse for not adding video/voice support).

    So far we have the following confirmed facts about Office 12 (for Mac)

    1. It will be a Universal Binary

    2. It will have a new user interface

    3. It will NOT support VBA

    4. It will support the new XML file format

    However Microsoft have already also said that they will provide a plugin for Office 2004 to let it work with the new XML file format as well so this is not sufficient justification to upgrade.

    If we are very generous we could make a PRESUMPTION that a 5th change will be in the list.

    5. Because it is the first major re-write for years and years and years (Office v.X and Office 2004 still contain cruddy old code BY MICROSOFT’S OWN ADMISSION, which is why they ‘can’t’ port the VBA support) it might finally improve reliability and speed. (Even when historically the PowerPC chip _WAS_ faster at maths than the Intel chip of the period, Excel still ran like a three legged dog on the Mac, leading conspiracy theorists to suggest Microsoft had deliberately crippled it by inserting delay loops.)

    The above list is not by any stretch of imagination a description of a MUST HAVE upgrade, especially considering we will definitely be loosing one hugely important feature (VBA) and the current version of Office 2004 is still an option (unless you are an Arab or Israeli).

    With NeoOfficeJ available now for Intel Macs and FREE OF CHARGE, and OpenOffice confirming they are going to do a proper Mac version which also will be FREE, Microsoft need to throw us users a few more bones to encourage us to hand over [very] large sums of money to upgrade.

    I certainly as an IT Manager am very glad I did not pay for software assurance for Office for Mac as it will have been nearly FOUR YEARS between upgrades (by the time it ships) and as I am suggesting, they have also still failed to make the case for this being a worthwhile upgrade.

    While in the past the threat of Office for Mac being discontinued would have filled Mac users with terror, (which I will remind you Office is now the ONLY revenue generating product left for the MBU division). Now I am more inclined to merely yawn.

  19. Nathan says:

    It’s nice to see important information like this put forward by the developers, stops a lot of rumours gathering speed and ending up spread all over the Mac community. It’s good to see everything is on track – I appreciate the honesty and look forward to Office when its ready.

  20. ppfournier says:

    Update 11.3.0 won’t install…I get a message saying that “The installer cannot locate the correct version of this software” etc…any ideas?

  21. Asam Bashir says:

    I hope Office 12 ships before Google Office, as you’ll be saying goodbye to a lot of your customers….

  22. I hope the new interface is a little bit more mac-like/friendly.

    I feel it is very kludgly ( if I’m allowed to make up words ).

    As a recent "switcher", I’m quite disappointed with Office for Mac ( word more specifically ) and after using Office 2007 beta I feel extremely disappointed now.

    The UI is a dream to use!

    Can I suggest a notebook view more like OneNote? I miss the way I do not have to save EVERYthing I do.

    More integration with MAIL and not entourage.

    Thank you 🙂

  23. SK8T says:

    Well, it’s better to work with macs than with windows pcs right 😉

  24. Chuck says:

    I don’t understand why the Mac Office should lag Windows by 6-8 months. Make the file formats compatible and ship simultaneously. Do a public beta. I can’t help thinking the 6-8 month delay is corporate policy that has nothing to do with technical issues.

    Oh, and Mac Office better be as fast as the Windows version!!!!!!!!

    I can’t emphasize that enough. Mac users have put up with crappy Windows code and pcode emulators for decades. ENOUGH. The computers all use the same chips now, so put it on a common code base and give us decent performance.

    I already use NeoOffice and Mac Office (and Nisus Writer) because two of those three are in Universal binary form. Office 2004 is pokey compared to Neo, and that is pretty damning, since Neo isn’t know for speed.

    Mac OS X interface compatibility, yah, and document compatibility, of course, but fix the performance issues! There is no longer any excuse.

  25. Schwieb says:

    Chuck, the 6-8 month delay has everything to do with technical issues.  WinOffice hasn’t shipped yet — they are still fixing issues and finalizing the actual code that implements the new file format.  We have been porting it in stages all along, but have to port the last stage over to Mac Office and that can’t happen until the WinOffice team is done.  Once we port the code over, we have to actually make it run on the Mac, and that takes time.

    Tha’s the same reason the file converters for Office 2004 aren’t ready yet — they too are based on the new code, which we don’t have in its entirety yet.

  26. eponymous coward says:

    Michael-

    Trust me, if the Windows Outlook and Exchange folks could get rid of MAPI, they would, in a heartbeat. It’s non-standard, as opposed to a number of interoperable mail/calendar standards out in the big wide world (because MAPI predates wide adoption of many, many things), it’s complicated and abstruse to program (just TRY and find a copy of Inside MAPI at your local bookstore), and it would be an incredible bitch to port into Entourage (the reason Entourage exists in Carbon form and Outlook 2001 doesn’t is it took weeks to Carbonize Entourage- as opposed to years to potentially Carbonize Outlook, similar to what happened to Word/PPT/XL). Oh, and Exchange is exposing more and more of its guts to non-MAPI methods and APIs in every single release.

    Adding MAPI support to Entourage is exactly the WRONG approach. The correct things to do is to bug the Exchange people to make sure you can do everything you need with things like DAV, iCal, XML/RPC, SOAP that don’t depend on bizarre APIs that only Microsoft knows how to fully exploit. That way, you aren’t locked into one client like you are in Windows- GroupCal and Mail.app become great options in this scenario, if they meet your needs better. Competition on open standards > Microsoft-controlled APIs.

  27. Hopefully by the time it the MacBu is ready to release it, Apple will have made iWork into a capable alternative.

    With a spreadsheet mooted for early next year and some mods to Pages we may have a viable competitor of our own.

  28. ADAXL says:

    @ Schwieb

    Thanks for the response. Your remarks about Winoffice sounds like office on windows will be a nasty rush job.

    I am still very worried about the MS product lineup for Mac. Is there any sign Microsoft will become more active on the Mac side? Can’t MS produce proper a proper Media Player port? Apple delivered iTunes for windows, and took over huge parts of the digital music market this way. There is also Quicktime for Windows and Bonjour. Microsoft, with its multi-zillion budget, is barely able to produce software for its own OS line, and not even that is supported completely. IE7 and Media Player 11 won’t run on Windows 2000, while other products (iTunes, Quicktime, Firefox) do so without any problems. I think MS is no longer competing for the favor of the users, but is just sitting on its huge market share betting on the OEMs and market inertia to produce cash for them.

  29. The Masked IT Manager says:

    Does anyone really care anymore?

    As it currently stands, we’re moving off from Mac Office for our Mac folks anyway because there are just enough current compatibility issues (scripting, some minor interoperability issues with files despite this file format compatibility between Office 2003 for Windows and Office 2004 for Mac, plus those certain missing apps available only on the Windows Office suite) which are only going to grow with this next version.

    Besides universal binary support, there are no other compelling reason for us to upgrade so your losing our Mac Office volume site licensing at least at our company.

  30. Dr.T says:

    He folks, how about a Microsoft Office Compatibility Pack for Word-, Excel- und PowerPoint 2007-files. There  is a plugin for the windows version of office 2003 – but not for office 2004 for mac.

  31. mdhills says:

    Any word on developments in how inter-system graphics are handled?  (this continues to be one of the banes of cross-platform compatibility between Office for windows and Office 2004 for mac;  powerpoint worst of all, and word to a lesser extent)

  32. joeleblanc says:

    "He folks, how about a Microsoft Office Compatibility Pack for Word-, Excel- und PowerPoint 2007-files. There  is a plugin for the windows version of office 2003 – but not for office 2004 for mac."

    The file converters that Schwieb mentions in his comment are exactly that.

    From our Press release(http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/press/2006/jan06/01-10Macworld2006PR.mspx)

    "To ensure that Office for Mac customers receive the highest level of compatibility, the Mac BU will issue converters that let Office for Mac users read the new Microsoft Office Open XML Format. These downloadable converters will be released for current versions of Office for Mac following the availability of the next version of Office for Windows®."

  33. To further comment on Ep’s *excellent* rebuttal of the “MAPI is Magic” myth, if you have to use MAPI over any kind of distance, say a couple thousand miles, not uncommon, it’s performance falls apart, because it was never designed to be used on the Internet, thousands of miles and n intermediate hops from the server.

    The only reason anyone other than MS uses MAPI is for Outlook compatibility. If they’d wise up and use DAV, or OWA instead, they’d still have Outlook compatibility, along with Entourage and Evolution too, all running as happy groupware clients.

    The idea that a lack of MAPI is why Entourage’s *Exchange* feature set is behind Outlook 2001’s is ridiculous. As well, all Outlook 2001 could do was Exchange. Entourage is just a TAD more capable.

  34. John’s completely correct. MAPI gets very, very cranky when network latency gets high (though RPC/HTTP, new for O2003/EX2003) helps with this).

    Take, for instance, (I got this story from my dad, a consultant) the company that had their branch office in Eastern Europe with a 64K ISDN line connected to the main office in Paris, where their Exchange Servers AND their Outlook PSTs were.

    Yes, that’s right- the “local” data stores for their Exchange mail were on a network server. They regularly and completely locked up their Windows machines because of how badly Outlook reacted to the network latencies of having to roundtrip any network action twice as much as usual.

    Granted, their sysadmins needed to be smacked repeatedly for this kind of dumb layout, but still, crashing and freezing the OS because the network’s slow?

  35. David says:

    A proper fully functional outlook client would be a huge benefit to mac users. Entourage exchange support is simply terrible.

  36. No, Entourage v.X’s support was terrible. 2004, especially with SR 2 is not horrible at all. It’s not even close to terrible. It still needs improvement and i’ve no doubt that it will be improved, but it’s far from "terrible"

  37. Toby Wells says:

    Our company has 270 Macs and 5 PCs. We run Entourage on every Mac linking to Exchange and it works brilliantly. Mail, Diary and Contacts all work, sync back when you come in from offline mode with no intervention, talks to WinMobile 5 devices, Sony Ericsson M600i and such like. It works far better than any other groupware system we have tried and users love it.

    I suspect a lot of people are suffering from “teriible” experience because setting up Exchange for Macs is a dark art and it took us and our hosting partner a few weeks to tweak it right so all the bits work. A lot of other sites I have visited have Exchnage Admins who just dont understand it outside Outlook Client on Windows and that is where the problem is.

    MacBU have been steadily improving Exchange support in Entourage since last August and for that they should be applauded. Dont just say “terrible” unless you can quantify the statement and certainly dont say it until you have see a setup that works as well as ours does.

  38. Chris says:

    I’m praying for better Exchange integration and well as much deeper and richer support for SharePoint 2003/2007. We’ve fully deployed SharePoint in our enterprise and the Mac experience is very poor. Some of that is the IE-centric nature of SharePoint, but Office 2004 doesn’t play that well either.

  39. washaway08 says:

    You may have listened to nice news.

    I’m glad to hear the no delay working.

    I support you from Japan!

  40. Magnus says:

    Sorry, I had missed that thing about VBA going away. Where did that come from? What about compatibility with Windows? OpenOffice supports the same programming on both Windows and Mac (and Unix) as far as I know.

  41. DOTG says:

    Please just keep all of MS Office for MAC users posted at regular intervals, I can’t keep up between the PC information I get and the MAC information I get.

    All I really want to know is when is the new version of Office going to be released? I am all ready to upgrade et al. my PC and I would really like to stay on schedule with my MAC as well. My business does actually depend on it….

    Also I was recently asked what I would like to see in the new version of Corel WordPerfect and my answer was a BIG SWITCH BUTTON in the toolbar to instantly turn my documents into MAC/Word compatible documents instead of having to move them from Word to WordPerfect on PC and then into Word for MAC documents and back again, my port. hardrive is having difficulty keeping up! Maybe you guys could make a BIGGER SWITCH BUTTON to do the same for WordPerfect Docs???

    Regards,

    DOTG

  42. Dave Barnes says:

    I just read this “Office Accounting Express 2007 will also be included in the Small Business, Professional and Office Ultimate versions of Microsoft Office 2007.” at CNet.

    So, I hope this means that the Mac version is included.

  43. In reviewing Jesper’s list of requirements for The Email Client That Doesn’t Suck, I was somewhat surprised how many of his points are already handled by Microsoft Entourage 2004. I’d give it 19 out of 26 points. There are some places

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