Converters Coming! Free and (Fairly) Fast.


There’s been some pretty alarmist news stories this morning (apcstart.com; CrunchGear) about file format converters and Office for Mac. Because some of these stories seem designed more to inflame than inform, I want to reiterate our previously reported intention to provide free converters, clarify our timing for their release, and also give some direction on how best to avoid incompatibility until they are available.

Be it resolved: The Mac BU WILL issue free, downloadable file format converters that allow users to read the new Microsoft Office Open XML Format. We announced that publicly at WWDC, and nothing has changed.

Timing: We’re working on our file format converters as I write. We had to wait until Office 2007 bits and the new file format itself were locked down.  During this time, we spent the last year and a half prepping and planning for our own development of file format converters for Office for Mac.  This included the basic supporting work of a rich and compatible XML parser, code to understand the new package structure, and beginning work on reading and writing early development versions of the file format. So now that Office for Windows has been released, we are working on completing compatibility with the released formats, while also completing other major work such as moving our codebase to the Intel platform, which we have discussed at some length on this very blog and elsewhere. We are running on target and expect to release a free public beta version of the file format converters in Spring 2007, with final converters available six to eight weeks after we launch our next version of Office for Mac (which, as previously reported, will be available 6-8 months after general availability of Win Office.) The next version of Office for Mac will natively read the Open XML Format; users of the current version of Office will have converters in order to maintain compatibility with the new Office for Windows.

There will be a delta between general availability of Win Office (January) and converters from MacBU (expected late March/early April.) We realize this will be an inconvenience for some of you (trust me, we know – 90% of Microsoft has been dogfooding Office 2007 for many months, and we in the MacBU are well used to asking for down-reved versions ourselves). For now, we recommend that Mac users advise their friends and colleagues using Office 2007 to save their documents as a “Word/Excel/PowerPoint 97-2003 Document” (.doc, .xls, .ppt) to ensure the documents can be shared across platforms.

Comments (104)

  1. Gonzie says:

    and these will support v.X yes

  2. ubern@mac.com says:

    It’s amazing that one company can be so inept and incompetent that they’d be unable to synchronize the release of these converters. How long has WinOffice crew being working on this? You couldn’t sit in a teleconference and figure out how to get this done simulatenously?

    Please. You guys suck.

  3. Chuck Bouldin says:

    It would be even better to just publish the specs for the "Open" XML file fomats. Trust me, converters would appear, and probably more quickly.

  4. Si Chun Lam says:

    Thank you for letting us know.  While having to wait 6-8 weeks after the next version of Office:mac for the final version of free converters isn’t perfect (that’s looking like November 2007 in a worst case scenario assuming that “general availability” of Office 2007 means end-January 2007 and Office:mac (2008?) appearing in September 2007) it is certainly really useful to have an idea of your timescales.  In any case, I am very much looking forward to the next version of Office:mac.

  5. Hi Chuck,

    The specifications are published here:

    http://www.ecma-international.org/news/TC45_current_work/TC45-2006-50_final_draft.htm

    It’s not just a question of reading and writing a file out to disk. It’s a question of fidelity. Users are going to have a seamless experience with these converters, and the document they open in Office 2004 is going to look as much like the same  document in Office 2007 as we can possibly make it. The reverse needs to be true also, a file that’s created in Office 2004 using the new converters needs to look nearly exactly the same in Office 2007.

    There’s a lot of work that goes into this, and I think everyone is going to be happy with the final result.

    Best regards,

    Brian

    Brian Johnson

    Product Manager

    Mac Business Unit

  6. oo says:

    OpenOffice still seems to work, as does NeoOffice.

  7. ConradGempf says:

    Tell me again why it’s called “Open”XML format if even your own company’s software can’t read it when it comes out? My current theory is that you have one very ironic guy who makes up these names intending them to be sarcastic. I mean, come on… “Genuine Advantage”? And “PlaysForSure” — good one. I think he must have been off sick when you invented Microsoft Points. He would have called them Microsoft “It’s Your Money” Points and Wi-You’re-In-Control-Not-the-Music-Companies-Fi.

  8. "Alarmist? More to inflame than inform?" How insulting.

    We made an enquiry to Microsoft Australia’s PR agency about timing on the converters and the response was that they were coming but no ETA. "I don’t have any additional details to share on timing on the availability of the converters at present."

    We then made an enquiry directly to you, Sheridan, at MacBU in Redmond, however you were on holidays at the time so you passed it on to Tammy Hovey at Edelman PR in the States. On 17 November she said, "it is still too early for us to say when the converters will be available."

    We then further quarantined the story for a couple of weeks to give you the opportunity to make a statement coinciding with the release of Office 2007 to business volume licence customers. None was forthcoming.

    So, essentially, we approached Microsoft Australia’s PR agency, Microsoft US directly and Microsoft US’ PR agency. We asked everyone we could find in every way we could think of, and got no date.

    Now that the story is published, a date come out straight away!

    Is this how Microsoft plays the game with media?

    I think what you should have said is that it IS alarming to Mac users that no converter info has been available. Not that our report is alarmist.

    Further, your advice is to do exactly what we said in the story was going to be a real pain: ask all your co-workers to save into a different format. That’s great service for your Mac Office customers!

    You do work for the same company that develops Office for Windows, right? Is it unreasonable to expect that you might have some ‘insider access’ to the file format specs as they are developed and going to RTM? How about your commitment to communicating openly with customers and the media?

  9. Othman says:

    It is too bad that it will take so long to get these converters out when the same converters are already available in beta form for Windows at: http://www.microsoft.com/office/preview/beta/converter.mspx

    Nonetheless, good move to make it known that you are at least working on them: it certainly helps counterbalance the alarmist articles to all the macsurfer faithfuls out there (seriously, where would we get our mac news from, if it wasn’t for macsurfer??)

  10. Canimus Goring says:

    Just the same old utterly corrupt Microsoft, extend and extinguish, used to eliminate all previous competitors and now their own Mac division. The government antitrust division needs to stop distribution of the PC Office version until a COMPLETELY COMPATIBLE Mac Office version is simultaneously released, or not allow distribution EVER.

    Anybody with half a brain knows this is Microsoft’s shot over the bow reference Apple producing an Office competitor. Mac & PC versions will use different standards so Office Mac can be made instantly incompatible if Microshit feels any potential competition.

    Microsoft is well aware that nobody will choose a Microsoft piece of crap software if they have a choice between Microsoft and an Apple product.

  11. Nick says:

    I think its awesome to see Microsoft bring these out. To all the nay sayers get a life – This is the real world not everything works how you think it should!

  12. SPower says:

    So the converters are coming months after the release of Office 2007 Win? Truly disgraceful. Aren’t the converters for the current version of Office Win already available? Why are you guys so far behind? I’m sure you have the coding talent, so poitical reasons must be to blame. You suggest the delay is becasue the spec took a while to be nailed down, but why then are the converters for the Windows version ready now? This is another slap in the face for an already "2nd class citizen" experience. I’m sure all users have had issues with bad WMF image rendering of Win Office files opened with Office for Mac (I have to suffer the troubles with this almost daily). Now you’re telling us we can’t even open the file for 3 months! You have got to be kidding.

  13. JGrey says:

    "The next version of Office for Mac will natively read the Open XML Format"

    Wait, you said "read" not "read and write". Does this mean that the next version of Office for Mac will not use the same "Open XML" file format as Office 2007 for Windows?

    Could you please clarify?

  14. Schwieb says:

    The converters will read and write the new formats, JGrey.

  15. Ensoniq says:

    I appreciate all the hard work that the Mac BU does for the Apple community.  It’s so good, we often forget it’s “Evil Microsoft”.  🙂

    But seriously…I’ve read the “we had to wait for the Office 2007 for Windows crew to nail down the formats before we could get started” line in one form or another way too many times and yet it still makes no sense at all.

    Like someone else posted, this should have been done in tandem with the Windows crew so that there as close to a simultaneous release as possible.  Six to 8 months after Windows Office 2007 being done for the next Mac Office, held back mostly due to interoperability concerns?  I just don’t buy it.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Dan, I’m not sure I understand you.  You couldn’t get some semblence of dates out of Microsoft, so that justifies a story that contains no facts that weren’t already known by the entire online Macintosh community under a  headline that reads, "The lock-out begins for Office Mac users"?

  17. sherjo says:

    Not trying to insult you or anyone else, Dan, and I’m sorry that I was unable to respond directly to your request for additional information. As you know, I have had a good relationship with APC in the past, spending much time with your reporters at the Microsoft Hardware Fair this summer. Unfortunately, in mid-November when you last checked in with us, we were not able to give as specific a date on the release of the converters as I gave today.

    Although we were about to announce the availability and timeframe of converters now that Office for Windows is available, the headline "Use MS Office On A Mac? You’re About To Get Screwed" on one of the stories published today was inaccurate and inflammatory, and needed addressing immediately, and so I blogged it rather than sending out a press release – because we have committed to being as open and communicative with customers as possible, and letting them think that it was going to be years  before converters were available, as one article suggested, was unnecessarily alarmist and just plain wrong.

  18. Heather James says:

    Please wait 6 to 8 weeks for my comments.

    Thank you.

  19. JGrey says:

    Schwleb,

    Thanks for the reply, but that only half answered the question (at least for me). Your reply seems to imply that there will always be conversion involved when using docx, etc.

    My question is, will the new Mac Office apps use the same default file format as Office 2007 for Windows? i.e. will the Open XML formats be the native formats of the next Office for Mac suite?

  20. Ray says:

    I think you guys do a good job overall and are going to take a bit of heat for the late converters. Please  understand the frustration of Mac users and not take it personal. It was quite brave to ask others to hold off on an upgrade. Good luck with the converters and I hope they are finished quickly.

    Cheers

  21. julie says:

    How many back versions of Office on Windows and the Mac will MS support? Nothing but the (previously) latest versions? Suddenly Office 2000 for Windows is dogfood? Or Word:Mac?  I hope not…  perfectly functioning software on perfectly functioning hardware…

  22. I’m sorry Ms guys but I strongly agree with SPower and others.

    It is NOT ON that you can’t enable Mac users to be able to read and write the standard Windows Office files for at least 3 months! This is sick and wrong – as others have said the current windows version of Office has a beta why can’t Mac users??

    This is kick in the teeth for Mac users everywhere and will just drive us towards Open Office – thank you God for it! They will provide drivers sooner!

    http://www.pcworld.com/article/id,128079-c,officesuites/article.html

    You can’t make these things up! So let me get this straight, Ms Office for Windows can work with Novell – a completely separate company to ensure that Open Office (a free office suite) will convert the new files by the end of January – but a department within Ms (that has made millions out of Mac users) cannot do the same for at least two months after that??!!

    What is going on?? Something is badly wrong at Office for the Mac.

    Disgraceful.

  23. OK, no worries Sheridan. Glad you weren’t referring to our story as the alarmist one.

  24. niker82 says:

    Ok, I don’t like to blame people that work very hard to bring office compatibility to Mac users.

    But this time, I can see something illogic in the statements make by MacBU.

    Why are you developing a converter from scratch at all?

    Since the objective is to obtain a standard .doc file from a .docx file, why you don’t try to reuse the code of Converter for Win Office 2003?

    Since the input are the same, the output are the same and the processing don’t seem to involve any OS API call (at least from a logical point of view), why don’t you get the C++ code, make a little porting and recompile it?

    Given your abilities (not mine), it will take 10 days max; heck, you’re porting the entire Office suite to XCode, translating in UB, writing an AppleScript layer.

    To me this problem, appear a lot more simple than port VB scripting to UB ;). If I’m wrong, can you explain to me, where?

    Thanks

  25. JackIsBack says:

    WOW!!! It should take a whole millisecond to develop these convertors when the code is already available for older Windows Office versions. This is only a ploy to make Microsoft products appear more compatible and is a ploy to help Vista. … But then again – this brain dead company can’t even make their Zune music player Vista compatible right out of the gate, maybe they really can’t see that far ahead – it is POSSIBLE.

    IDIOTS!!!

  26. Suresh Kumar says:

    I think the Microsoft Mac BU are doing a great job!

    im sure it must be hard having your dev. team not close to the action in Redmond, that has its good and bad parts im sure… and there must be a minefield of politics to deal with.

    That all said.  Please help me out with the following:-

    – Is the Microsoft Open XML spec open and published?  

    – Can another 3rd party develop a converter?

    – If the convertor is available for Windows — why was it not developed in parallel for Mac? — what was the rationale for that decision?

    – Do you intent to release Groove as part of the Mac Office suite?

    thanks

    Suresh

  27. bschmidt says:

    Brian,

    Why not have Microsoft put up a website that would allow anyone to upload an MSOffice 2007 file and have it down-converted to 97-2003 Document format? No development would be necessary – just a bank of XP or Vista machines running Office 2007.  This would be a much better interim step than telling Mac users to go tell Office 2007 users to re-save their files and re-send them.

  28. weefs says:

    I think MS needs to get in another line of business. They’re incredibly negligent towards their customers and seem a decade behind the times.

    Often, I’ll forget how bad computing can be until I have to use MS software.

  29. andrew s says:

    Wow, people need to lay off the macBU… they’re good people (and mac fans just like the rest of us!), and it’s not their fault that Microsoft doesn’t devote enough resources to their department to get the converters out in the timeframe we would like. Blame the higher-ups at Microsoft (whose view toward mac users is clearly somewhat myopic), but why waste your energy alienating the only people in the company who actually seem to care about mac users? I’m sure they wish they could get the converters out earlier as much as we wish they could, but unless Microsoft gives them more staff, there probably isn’t much they can do.

    I agree, it’s going to be really irritating for the first couple of months (although, honestly, not that many companies are upgrading their PCs to Office 2007 immediately), but it’s a little absurd to accuse Microsoft of intentionally delaying them to spite mac users. If that were the case, why would they be investing the time/money into creating converters at all? They would just tell you “tough luck– buy office mac 2007 when it is released”

    I think it is great that the macBU has this blog and uses it to inform and communicate with its users, but I would imagine they are less likely to give  future updates when all of the comments are things like “Please. You guys suck.”

    Just my 2 cents.

  30. I work for a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner so we have now had access to Office 2007 since November. Our users who are still using Office 2003 are _now_ using the beta converters for the new document formats. I was expecting (as others have based on the previous comments) that the Mac office converters would be coming out in a similiar timeframe.

    To have the converters for Office v.X/2004 released _after_ Mac Office 12 is absolute madness! You will really be causing great erosion of your market.

    If you think that Mac users just deal with Mac Users and Win users just deal with win users, then you are really out of date. We are in a homogenous connected world and the reality is that the pain of getting people to save in the older format is going to drive many users (especially the more technically competent) to other alternatives like:

    – Win Office 2003/2007 on Windows (using Parallels/VMware Fusion/Virtual PC for PPC), MacBU gets nothing

    – Win Office 2003/2007 on WINE/Crossover Office etc, MacBU gets nothing

    – OpenOffice/NeoOffice (once Novell gets the converters sorted out), MS gets nothing

    Just remember that the above anger and vitrol is not coming from the usual slashdot crowd – it is from your paying customers. There is already pent up anger over the Virtual PC/Office VBA decisions – so don’t add to it please.

    In a nutshell, you need to release (at least betas of) your converters for the current versions of Office before the end of January.

  31. JackIsBack says:

    You guys that want to defend the macBU – it’s the same company. If the company doesn’t communicate, it’s the entire companies fault and they should maybe fix things. I guess the Vista group doesn’t talk with the Zune group as the Windows Office group doesn’t talk with MacBU.

    But in the end – I DON’T CARE what their excuses are, after all it’s just an excuse and since I’m a customer, I just want something that actually works and solves my problems.

    Microsoft first creates the problem and then pat themselves on their collect backs for fixing it at some future date – I DON’T THINK SO, I won’t be cheering this incompetent bunch.

  32. Schwieb says:

    Sorry JGrey, I missed that part of the question in your post. To clarify, Mac Office 12 will be supporting the same new file formats as in Win Office 2007.  They will indeed be the new defaults, although I believe you might be able to set a preference to change the default back to the older formats (I’m not positive, though.)  The old formats will also continue to be supported.

    I’ll be putting up a post on my own blog tonight or tomorrow about the work involved in the new formats as well.

  33. Heck, I’ll call the APC story alarmist. First, the title:

    “The lock-out begins for Office Mac users”

    Let’s look at the definition for lock – out, hmm?

    lock out vt

    1. to prevent somebody from entering a place by locking the door

    2. to prevent workers from entering their workplace, usually as a strategy in an industrial dispute

    Lock-out implies, and rather blatantly, that this is a deliberate tactic by Microsoft to force Mac users into an inferior situation. It makes no allowance for any kind of mitigating circumstances. You say “lock-out”, you’re saying that Microsoft is deliberately taking action to keep Mac users from working with Office 2007 users by design. Don’t like that? Change your headline, because the current one is alarmist as all heck.

    From your story:

    “A spokesperson for the MBU reminded APC of its promise at WWDC that “free downloadable converters would be available” following the release of Office 2007 for Windows, but was unable to tell us when.

    “Unfortunately it is still to early for us to say when the converters will be available”, she said.”

    Yet you somehow didn’t mention that the last time you talked to the Mac BU was in November, and that you were basing your statements on that, and waiting for an updated statement.

    Alarmist? Not as much as the title, but it’s definitely leading readers to a conclusion.

    So maybe if you don’t want to be labeled alarmist, you should reconsider writing alarmist titles. Just a thought.

  34. Al Gordon says:

    Jeez — what a lot of flaming over formats that less than 2 or 3 percent of the computing universe will be using for the next several months.

    Really, folks, for those of us in the real world the old .doc .xls etc. are going to be the formats of choice until we are certain the people to whom we will be sending documents have upgraded.

    My question comes from Erik’s last post: Will that default format setting be there or not?

    Attn: MBU, that is a crucial feature.

  35. Todd A says:

    A big thanks to the MacBU for getting this information out to us.

    We’ve discussed this transition in-house, too.  Our Mac admins are understandably concerned.  However, in discussions with our Windows team, it’s clear that the move to docx is going to be a substantial headache for them, too.  The transition on the Windows side will take some time and these tools from the MacBU will likely become available in what will be the very early stages of the move.

    To all the angry abusive types who have left comments – let’s stop and think here.  Upgrading to a new version of Office isn’t something that any of us take lightly or do quickly.  Those with limited finances will avoid it as long as they can, perhaps years.  Those with extensive resources are going to take their time and do it in a measured manner backed with plenty of advance testing over many months.  By early April when the Mac converters become available, I doubt I will have seen even a single docx file.

    The good people at the MacBU work their tails off for our benefit.  I, for one, appreciate that.

    Happy coding, folks!

  36. JackIsBack says:

    Also: Windows users have at least an option – they can upgrade to Office 2007, yet Microsoft still made a previous version converter. For their Mac customers – they have no options –  NOTHING, and the converter is more of an after thought then of a planned solution for their customers.

  37. mmeister says:

    Sorry guys — this is a major screw up on Microsoft’s part… no doubt about it.

    Having written an application or two in my day, I know that file formats get locked down as soon as possible. If your file format is incredible unstable when you’re in beta, you’re creating crap.

    And I suspect that if MS has been dogfooding the new format for a while, it must have been stable enough to use regularly. Why wasn’t the framework for file conversion started then? What, did Office 2007 only get a 2 week beta? I think not.

    Even if it required a few tweaks between Beta and Final, that’s a hell of a better place to start than waiting until after Office 2007 goes GM before you do anything.

    Sorry — there is no excuse for this. This is an example of poor management. I don’t blame the engineers, but I do think the management team is clearly been using the Vista development playbook.

  38. David Gregory says:

    I don’t hold anything against the Mac BU, you do what you can as allowed from up the chain, so don’t take this personally. That said, I think I speak for a boatload of Mac users when I state that I am tired of paying for crippled software that is not feature complete and fully compatible with Office for Windows.

    Office Professional for Mac doesn’t need Virtual PC- it needs an Access component, full support for Outlook/Exchange and a Communicator Client. We can live without the rest.

    What we have is a partially compatible home office suite that can be easily replicated for free or minimal cost. Open Office & NeoOffice J are free and do everything MS is trying to sell us. I want to support Mac development from big and small firm and understand the value of Office support for the Mac platform. I also understand that the limitations of Office on the Mac are not technical- it is a decision made by a company that contended in court that they supported Office on ‘other OSes’. Well I would like full support and am willing to pay for it.

    If I don’t get a proper feature set I will not be buying any future version of Office. I am fortunate enough in not having the need to fit into the death grip of the Windows Office monopoly and will take my business elsewhere. I’m tired of all the intentional marginalization.

    Over 20 million people are using Mac OS X, and that should make a big enough market to support a proper version of Office. If a price adjustment needs to be made, then do it. Mac users have long been used to paying a premium and will deal with it.

  39. warren says:

    @ andrew s

    I think the issue for MacBU isn’t one of resources, as much as it is the molasses pace at which development takes place at a large company. Check out this article on the design of Vista’s shutdown feature:

    http://www.joelonsoftware.com/items/2006/11/21.html

    Somewhere on Mac Mojo, there was a post about how MacBU can’t fill open positions. That means that Microsoft "higher ups" gave MacBU the go-ahead to create a new position and to look for someone to fill it, but no one (qualified enough) is showing up for interviews.

    Definitely not an issue of MacBU being resource deprived from higher ups.

  40. opensourcefan says:

    I read the linked articles in the blog post: apcstart.com; CrunchGear. They don’t sound alarmist to me. They’re rightly pointing out Microsoft is being a corporate jerk to one segment of its customers: Mac users.

    I could make this a long post with all kinds of evidence and arguments to make my point that those articles aren’t being alarmist, but it’s spitting in the wind.

    The only thing that will get through to the Microsoft decision makers who pull this kind of *#@%! is being slapped upside the head by government anti-trust prosecution and lawsuits.

    I hope governments around the world go after Microsoft’s sorry ass. I don’t care if it’s gross incompetence or maliciousness on the part of Microsoft. It’s effect is (as said above) extend and extinguish.

    I also hope more PC users decide to switch to Linux and OpenOffice or come to their senses and buy Macs rather than buy more buggy Windows OS junk.

    How do I hate Microsoft… let me count the ways…

  41. Geoff Price says:

    To further clarify, the work going on now is also not just about the new file formats, or even just about Intel, but involves lots of new functionality which the new file formats must tie into. Office for Windows made extensive changes during their final months of work (e.g. in response to feedback from their customers); with their final release we can complete our work and begin the final suite-wide testing and security pass on our end (which in itself takes more time than one might intuitively expect, given the scope.) We think it will be worth the wait, but we have a lot to finish.

    We’ll continue to talk about the look of things from our vantage in MacBU on this blog and others, for those who are interested, however we do understand that as customers you’d primarily just like the software to work when you need it. We apologize for this delay in compatibility.

  42. Schwieb says:

    I’ve added some discussion on my own blog with more detail about the scope of the work Geoff mentions.

    http://www.schwieb.com/blog/2006/12/05/conversion-factors/

  43. gordon says:

    frankly it is pathetic that one company with two flagship products would neglect one so badly.

    does this article imply the windows version of the format wasn’t at least fixed when office was shipped to QA months ago?

    you forgot, you should have done it on time for release, shame on you

  44. Paul Britton says:

    Thanks for the heads up Sheridan!  I got a lot of emails over the last 24hrs from concerned Office for Mac users due to that article.

    One thing that is getting lost in this shuffle is how EASY it is to save in Office 97-2003 file formats in Office 2007!!  As an Office 2007 tester and user for months now…I’ve had to do this throughout.  It is really simple and I do not believe a significant barrier.

  45. ADAXL says:

    I understand that writing good software is hard work, and I do not want to critize the MacBU people who have been doing this work, but MS in general. The policy of MS is astounding: Many OS projects manage to roll out products for multiple platforms at the same time or with little delay (think Firefox), and MS, the biggest, richest software house on the entire planet cannot get its flagship product out for two platform? Of course, Firefox is a smaller project, but it’s a smaller development team as well with only a fraction of Microsofts resources. Microsofts products in the last year have been very weak, and this is just one more gaffe:

    IE7 cannot hold a candle to Firefox.

    IE for Mac is dead, pity, it was a good browser.

    Zune is a bad joke compared to the iPod and not even compatible to Vista.

    Vista will only sell if preinstalled.

  46. rickster says:

    every article i’ve ever read describing talented people leaving Microsoft has also described the monolithic culture that is Microsoft.

    in such an organization, the MacBU’s revenue is lower than some other, much higher profile divisions – even the mouse & keyboard businesses probably trump it.   on top of that we don’t really “fit in” in the context of their corporate culture.

    so … the Mac BU staff obviously give a damn or else they wouldn’t even go to the trouble of blogging to their customer base, much less put up with some of the vitriol spewed here.

    i’ll admit, the behavior of some parts of Microsoft drive me insane. the kind of special insanity that only Microsoft can create that breaks businesses. but _these_ guys – they’re like us – or else they’d never be in the Mac BU to begin with.

    let’s give ’em a break and not eat our own.  they’re doing what they can with what they have.  

    agressive curiosity, sure.  but geez, the MacBU are not Steve Ballmer.

    p.s. not to mention, with the exception of Entourage, every Office 2004 app has always struck me as a much stronger product than their Office 2003 counterparts.  i’m expecting the same for Office 2008.

  47. Nick says:

    They have to lie, too. Don’t call something "open" when it’s not. It is not an open format: it is a format that belongs to Microsoft. If Microsoft had wanted to be open it would have used the truly open format Open Document, like virtually every other software vendor that writes office software will be.

    Deliberately coming up with yet another proprietary format is bad enough. Lying about it is worse.

  48. Brutus says:

    Dan Warne, I’ve read your apc rags via digg.com, and your stories are sensationslistic garbage, particularly when it comes to Microsoft.

    I recall your story about Microsoft "backing off" of the new Office 2007 UI, where you implied that adding the option of minimizing the ribbon was the same as removing it altogether and going back to menus.

    I recall your nonsense that Vista wouldn’t be able to play protected HD-DVD discs.  Another lie.

    And yes, this last story regarding Mac Office users being "locked out" regarding OpenXML was just more sensationalistic "MS = evil" malarky.

  49. Eytan says:

    How much everyone is complaining…

    As has been said here by Todd, most people (I know my company is included in that) will continue to use Office 2003 and XP (we just upgraded to SP2) for a while. We do quicker adoption on the Mac side then we ever do on the Window side for fear of disrupting stability. I don’t see us having one Vista desktop nor one Office 2007 installation in our 50,000+ employee company in 2007.

    Chill out people – Office 2007 will not be deployed on many desktops any time soon…

    Thanks for the head’s up and keep up the good work

  50. Doc Kinne says:

    Why should I care? I left Microsoft Word behind years ago. Whether it was meant to or not, this change in file formats will likely cause a flag day with regard to work processors and end up breaking Word’s hold on the industry. It’ll be interesting to see which word processor format rises to the top.

  51. Peter Vassiliou says:

    its pretty obvious why the converters will come so much delayed: The MAC market is small and Microsoft doesn’t dedicate many ressources in MAC development. This is one reason…

    The major reason though is that Microsoft does that deliberately in order to indirectly make Windows Vista and XP look more attractive. It’s the same old tactic that Microsoft used with many of their own Operating Systems!

    For example, IE 7 doesn’t run on Windows 2000…Why? Nobody knows…The BS that the OS is limited is marketing stuff…

    This is a Microsoft tactic and Microsoft won’t change it ever…I know, I used to work for the company!

    I think that Office 12 for MAC will be the last version to come, as MAC OS gains share Microsoft will want to defend its market, so they will stop developing anythig for the MAC…I don’t think that the 5 year deal will be renewed…Unless Microsoft would like to license MAC OS X and stop developing crap software like Vista…

  52. fxf says:

    Yeah, I’m going to go out on a limb and predict that all the people bemoaning the death of Mac Office will never encounter a .docx file before the converter hits unless they specifically go looking for one.

  53. Steve Setzer says:

    Seriously, people, is it really necessary to verbally abuse other human beings in this way?

    Sure, J. Random Hacker can code up a more-or-less converter relatively quickly. But serious development ain’t like dusting crops, boys.

    1: Getting something "almost right" is far easier than getting it "very right".

    2: Before it ships, software has to be tested. Several times. And then someone has to fix the problems found. And then the fixed versions have to be completely retested–you can’t just test the fixes, you have to make sure that your fix didn’t create or uncover other problems ("regressions" as we call them).

    3: Every released product needs documentation, knowledgebase articles, project management, product management, internal training, and a schedule that can cope with last minute changes. None of those is trivial, even for something as seemingly simple as a data converter.

    MacBU, you guys are doing all right.

    Steve Setzer

  54. Will !Wright says:

    MMeister sez:

    “Having written an application or two in my day, I know that file formats get locked down as soon as possible. If your file format is incredible unstable when you’re in beta, you’re creating crap.”

    ————————

    Obviously, you have never worked inside Microsoft. I have.

    While MacBU PMs generally have good relationships with their counterparts on the WinOffice team, there’s not a chance in Hell (or Redmond) that overall Office planning, scheduling or budgeting will include the MacOffice team.

    MacBU planners often has to sit on their hands for months, waiting for the WinOffice group to sort out *their* plans. They don’t have the resources to start work as soon as the WinOffice group publishes its specs. All too often, major “course corrections” happen several months into the development process. Code changes, business plans change, features get cut, etc. It simply doesn’t pay for the MacBU to start development of a cross-platform feature until they *KNOW* that it’s going to be in WinOffice and that the implementation details aren’t going to change significantly.

    So, yeah, it sucks that the MacOffice team can’t dither away development resources in perfect sync with the WinOffice team, and yeah, it sucks that they don’t have enough programmers to complete a full rev of MacOffice AND a set of converters at the same time.

    Nevertheless, it’s not for lack of effort on the part of the MacBU — it’s because nobody above the level of the MacBU general manager gives a damn about Mac users. It’s not a conspiracy — it’s simple congenital Mac-blindness in Microsoft’s upper mangement (not a typo).

  55. Will !Wright says:

    Niker82 sez:

    “Since the objective is to obtain a standard .doc file from a .docx file, why you don’t try to reuse the code of Converter for Win Office 2003?

    Since the input are the same, the output are the same and the processing don’t seem to involve any OS API call (at least from a logical point of view), why don’t you get the C++ code, make a little porting and recompile it?

    Given your abilities (not mine), it will take 10 days max; heck, you’re porting the entire Office suite to XCode, translating in UB, writing an AppleScript layer.”

    —————

    You keep using that word ‘porting’ — I do not think it means what you think it means.

    First, do you think Windows programmers at Microsoft EVER step outside of Visual Studio and write straight hand-coded C++?

    Odds are that the converters, even though they are ‘simple’ standalone apps, are written entirely in C# or — if the PM is a fool and a knave and a prating coxcomb — VB.

    Since fools, knaves and prating coxcombs generally get promoted to group manager level and aren’t involved in implementation details, let’s say the most likely case is that the converters are written in Visual Studio, in C#.

    If the WinOffice programmer(s) were careful, we’ve got a nice separation into MVC layers. Great! We’re still left with the tasks of 1) rewriting our core processing code in C or C++, the languages of choice in MacOffice development, 2) recreating all the display and filesystem functionality for the Mac, and 3) completely retesting all that code on the Mac.

    Since the MacOffice devs will already have written a huge body of OfficeXML code for ‘native’ XML file formatting, and the MacOffice testers will already have spent months beating the bugs out of THAT code, WHY IN THE TRIPLE BRAZEN HELLS OF AZATHOTH (see also ‘Redmond’) would you waste time porting code that would only have to be retested?

    It’s not happening. The proper method is to take the new MacOffice code to read and write XML, test it, and then lash up stand-alone converters. At the very least, the Mac devs and testers can ask for help from Joe the MacXML God Down The Hall instead of emailing  WinXML Programming Unit #287 On The Other Side Of Campus.

  56. The Zeeman says:

    Greetings and Thanks for keeping us compatible cross platform.  I look forward to the converters and the Mac Version of Office next fall.  Meanwhile, how come you guys don’t take over development of Windows Media Player and make one for Intel Macs?  

  57. Dan Warne says:

    Brutus:

    > Dan Warne, I’ve read your apc rags via

    > digg.com, and your stories are

    > sensationslistic garbage, particularly

    > when it comes to Microsoft.

    Thanks for your feedback.

    > I recall your story about Microsoft “backing

    > off” of the new Office 2007 UI, where you

    > implied that adding the option of minimizing

    > the ribbon was the same as removing it

    > altogether and going back to menus.

    Not my story, or one published by us I’m afraid. You’ve confused me with someone else.

    > I recall your nonsense that Vista wouldn’t

    > be able to play protected HD-DVD discs.

    > Another lie.

    I reported exactly what the Microsoft USA spokesman at TechEd said, and had a followup meeting with him before publishing the story to double-check the info. Microsoft actually issued the wrong information itself. Not a “lie” from me.

    > And yes, this last story regarding Mac

    > Office users being “locked out” regarding

    > OpenXML was just more sensationalistic “MS =

    > evil” malarky.

    Our story doesn’t say Microsoft is evil. And if you read the actual story, you’ll see it’s quite a level-headed look at the problem of O2K7 file format incompatibility with Office:Mac.

  58. scrapmaster says:

    You said: "we recommend that Mac users advise their friends and colleagues using Office 2007 to save their documents as a "Word/Excel/PowerPoint 97-2003 Document" (.doc, .xls, .ppt) to ensure the documents can be shared across platforms."

    Maybe *you* should be advising "our friends" to use obsolete file formats on our behalf, rather than expecting us to handle this, o great software monopoly.

  59. stefanschobes says:

    Al least it’s good to know, THAT Converters are coming….

    But am I really expected to tell my clients, that I cannot open a Word document? That’s heavy stuff…better keep hurrying…

    Yours

    Stefan Schobesberger

  60. NotTellin says:

    Ok… As a PM for another MAJOR cross-platoform application I find it hard to believe that the file format wasn’t frozen LONG AGO and work could have been done in parallel with the Office Window’s team.  

    The “fidelity” issues need to be addressed on the Windows Office side just as under the Mac version and given they share a common file format it should be a no brainer. In other words the issues have been found and the solution defined.

    Now, on the other hand if MS is using Windows OS specific technologies in any of the areas, which obviously we don’t do, then it all bets are off as you have to recreate these on the Mac. Otherwise, “should be” a fairly simple process. The idea that this will take you until spring, especially when one adds in the format freeze date, just seems to be omitting some important facts in your story.

    To be fair, I do love your stuff for the most part, STILL use Entourage even though I’m one of those poor souls that gets the crash upon opening if you close and reopen on an Intel Mac, but seriously this delta, to me, seems much to great.

    IMHO!

    Your code may vary….    

  61. John Muir says:

    (I said this over on Schweib where he detailed the XML parsing issue which is a part of the big old story here…)

    One of Mac Office’s drawbacks I think lies in the conservative approach you guys often take in decisions just such as the MSXML one we’re kind of talking about here. Bringing something like that to the table, porting it, testing it, and basically doing the implementation cha cha for something which surely you must itch could be done a simpler way … it delays release and it makes for bigger apps and more lag.

    I appreciate the almost Sisyphean efforts the Mac BU undertake to bring us our premium suite. But sometimes it really does seem to even a sympathetic observer like me that for whatever reasons you forever end up doing things the hard way!

    Fingers crossed for a great Office 12 … “2008″ maybe? So long as it comes out in ‘07!

  62. Jacob says:

    One will stay the same until the pain of changing is less than that of staying the same…

    Apple has made great strides in the last few years at winning back some market share.  FireFox is slowly knocking down doors.  The iPod is kicking butt in the market place while the Zune sits in boxes on the shelves.

    Microsoft will only respond to money.  Not empty threats or verbal abuse.  When enough users switch over to the Mac platform, that will send the message.  When customers quit being customers of Microsoft and start being customers of Apple, that will send a message.

    I don’t think converters are the problem here.  It is the arrogance of Microsoft to think they can push their way across the American landscape.  I hope soon, people will either see another way or create another path.

  63. ADAXL says:

    "For now, we recommend that Mac users advise their friends and colleagues not ot use Office 2007."

    That’s more like it!

  64. F.H. says:

    This really, really sucks. I guess this is pretty much a MS-problem, this company is just lame. A nice article about the Vista shutdown-dialog makes clear how decissions in this hole are made.

    http://moishelettvin.blogspot.com/2006/11/windows-shutdown-crapfest.html

    Thumbs down guys!

  65. R. Mansfield says:

    Hey, doesn’t textedit.app in OS X Tiger read and write Word XML formats? And it’s been out…what…a year and a half?

  66. There’s been a bit of flak about the Office Open XML file format converters for Mac Office. Sheridan

  67. J. Kopmanis says:

    Chiming in from the academic world….we’re a multiplatform customer of MS and other vendors, so when things get out of sync, out of necessity, we have to DELAY implementation on one platform to wait for another to catch up.

    The core of the problem is that MS hasn’t figured out yet that if they designed the software correctly, they could probably have a team working on the core of Office and sub-teams working on the Windows and MacOSX specific code to tie into it.  As has been mentioned, when you have a multi-billion dollar company that can’t get its head around this concept, it leads you to one of two conclusions: 1) MS is just that dumb, or 2) MS is actively trying to make life hard on non-Windows OS’es.  I tend to think its door #2, since MS has some very smart people employed.

    NeoOffice looks pretty good these days…and it has an Access-like function that really works.  Once the converters are there, it looks pretty attractive.

  68. Rick Schaut says:

    Rick M, two points:

    1) TextEdit reads the 2003 XML format.  The Open XML format in Office 2007 is very different; and

    2) There are a number of fidelity issues with TextEdit’s support of the old XML format, revision marking is just one example, that a number of Mac Office users would find completely unacceptable.

  69. John Maher says:

    I find the level of emotionality in this discussion to be curious, if not a material factor in the overall problem itself.

    1. Mac fanbois who want to act like Microsoft, and specifically the MacBU is feasting on the hindquarters of the baby Jesus: please turn off your computers and go outside.

    2. MS Apologists: my relationship with Microsoft is that I pay for permission to use their products. My expectation is that they will provide feature parity with the Windows versions of the office product line. The current version, not the last version.

    If Microsoft is unable to provide that feature parity and interoperability, I’m going to stop purchasing and using their product. Period.

    The “solution” of having me inform my collegues that they need to save it to a prior document version is not acceptable.

    If I am going to be forced to ask my users to take an extra step, it’s just as easy for me to ask them to save it in a format that is easily read by a variety of products other than Microsoft Office.

    In any event, please drop the editorializing on both sides as it’s not helpful.

  70. Jimmy says:

    What’s the problem here?  Mac users won’t be able to read all 5 people’s documents who are actually using the new format in O12?  

    Geez guys, just save in the compatible format like everyone else does.  I’ve been using Office 12 since the first beta and have been doing just that.

  71. Nigel H says:

    There is no problem with the timing of the converters, it will be a year or two before it would be a real issue, rather than an imagined one. I know we all like to live on the bleeding edge, but I’m prepared to bet a big bag of doughnuts that I’ll have the free converters delivered and installed on my MacBook Pro BEFORE I’m sent a new-format file.

  72. bynkii.com says:

    One of my biggest bugaboos is communications, or more specifically, a lack thereof from the people and companies I do business with. Well, personally too. One of the biggest signs that I had to marry Melissa and (relatively) fast, was that when I told

  73. Egil says:

    Great stuff! Keep up the good work, looking forward both to these new formats and the 2007 edition of Office!

  74. Jeremy says:

    Wow, I am surprised the MacBU still chooses to maintain a blog after all of the abuse they get.  Thank you to the MacBU for keeping this up.  This question is not related to this post but relates to the new version of Office for Mac.

    1) Is there a site that the MacBU maintains of what applications will be included in the new version of Office (PLEASE tell me Visio will be included)?  If there is a site, what is that URL?

    2) Does Microsoft maintain a forum for support in Office for the Mac?  I’ve noticed some interesting interactions between the Microsoft Outlook 2007 and Entourage 2004 calendar function and have no outlet, that I am aware of, to see if other people are experiencing the same problem.

  75. joeleblanc says:

    Re: Jeremy

    Thanks for the kind words. I’d be lying if I said that it hasn’t been a little rough for me this week reading the comments here, but the benefits of blogging far outweigh any frustrations.

    1) All of our press releases are on Mactopia, but I don’t believe we’ve talked publicly about that kind of info.

    2)  Our team monitors the microsoft newsgroups (microsoft.public.mac.office) and there is usually some pretty lively discussion in there. Each app has its own group too (.excel, .entourage, etc.) A number of MVPs will frequently respond to questions and offer suggestions. I would start there.

  76. Ken Marcus says:

    We really do appreciate your efforts, which have produced excellent software in recent years. But it’s important that you understand that any delay, especially as long as 2 months, is a very great problem for your users. My clients (I am an attorney) tolerate my ‘mac-ness’ only because it’s invisible to them – they deal with too many people simultaneously to accept an obligation on their part to transmit documents in a different format (even an older Word format) for my particular benefit. My hope is that they will be slow to adopt the new Office, giving me an opportunity to ‘catch up’ – otherwise, I really will have to switch (whether via Parallels, Boot Camp (ugh) or a separate machine I can’t say at this point). Thanks for all your efforts, and here’s hoping you surprise us by shipping the converters early. Aloha, Ken Marcus

  77. opensourcefan says:

    Hey Jeremy,

    If you do use the newsgroups that joeleblanc mentions be sure to use an email you’re willing to abandon. Those newsgroups are harvested for emails and you’ll soon be inundated with spam for viagra and worse.

  78. Hi guys (and gals),

    I’m very glad that MacBU exists, and I run Office 2004 on my PowerBook. Thanks for all your efforts on the new format converters and I totally understand your frustrations, and those shown on this blog by your customers.

    I do wish that MS could just formally open the existing Office 97 formats which continue to serve just fine, witness the great interoperability with OpenOffice. In fact, I have used Calc to repair Excel 2003 files that even Excel crashed on whilst trying to open.

    Best Wishes,

    Jonathan Watmough

  79. Jonathan says:

    I don’t mind waiting, necessarily, though it will no doubt cause some trouble.  Could you actually confirm that the converters will be available for Office X, as well?  I would be quite unhappy if I were forced to upgrade just to be able to read office documents.

    Thanks, I’d appreciate it.

  80. BAM says:

    Come on people!

    Probably one of MS best keep secret is the actual adoption rate and speed of adoption of new versions.

    We all know that today just no company have made the deployement of Office 2007!

    Look around! Win 2000 is still quite popular. How often do you still see Office 97 around? And you think those company will deploy the Office 2007 converter? No way!

    So until Office 2007 is actually used and you start receiving documents… I am sure many OfficeWin users will already have requested those person to do some "save as…"

    See you in march/april !

  81. Rob says:

    Ever so slack not to get the converters much sooner.

    Also the removal of VB is totally way off and is a much need part of the office suite.

    What is this the beinging if the end for the Mac Office Suite?

  82. With Office 2007 now being made available to businesses it is worth noting that the default file save

  83. Doug Mahugh says:

    Some people are wondering how Microsoft Office for the Mac will support Open XML, and there has been

  84. John Collins says:

    why?  why is visual basic compatibility being left out of office 2007 for mac?  this makes the software useless for many users who have be compatible with windows macros.  if you have to raise the price, or delay the release that is fine, just tell us and we will understand.  if you release office 2007 for mac without visual basic compatibility then office 2007 will be DOA…sales will decline and so will the funding microsoft puts into the MacBU.  Please include this to keep your jobs and give mac users a quality product…it is a win-win!

  85. mathue says:

    Jeeseeeeze, the DRAMA people! You’d swear that 6-7 weeks is somehow life threatening. OMG some Windows user _might_ send me a file that can only be opened by WinOffice2007. Oh the humanity. Get some perspective everyone. I strongly doubt I’ll have one *.docx file sent to me for MONTHS, let alone just mere weeks. It’s not like there will be some huge wave of uptake for Vista, heck my company probably won’t roll out Vista and apps for 18 to 24 months yet. One might have to worry 10 months from today but it’s just not a meaningful issue in the here and now.

  86. Kris says:

    This is somewhat off-topic, but a long-standing thorn in the side of the Mac professional community.

    Adobe has stated that they are unable to provide feature parity with the Mac versions of their “Convert to PDF” macros because Mac Office lacks a robust enough API to do things like (especially) TOC to Bookmark conversion.

    Will the new version include API enhancements to alleviate this situation, and has the MacBU been in communication with Adobe about this?

  87. jollyllama says:

    What gets me the most about this isn’t so much the fact that there’s a time delay as that the poster had the audacity to emphasize the fact that the converter would be free.  Are you implying that there was a chance of charging for it?  Your post implied that we would be excited about the fact that it’s free.  That would be like a car buyer being excited that a new car comes with tires.

  88. Simon says:

    One of the first articles that went up on the .docx format- still handy for those that are stuck with them.

    http://www.eightysevenfour.com/?p=14

  89. Ishan Bhattacharya says:

    It takes courage to take this abuse (some of it justified perhaps). I suspect the MacBU would like nothing more to have the converters out on the day Office for Windows is released. But…they are second class citizens at Microsoft, simply because they are not a source of a giant chunk of Microsoft’s annual revenue. The folks at MacBU know this of course, and their argument that their hands are tied is true.

    Still and all, if the format was easily available to the authors of MacLink Plus Deluxe (and it probably is), there’ll be converters out well before Mac users are deluged with Word 2007 files. Asking the sender to save the file in a particular format is simply not practical; often, people I don’t know well send me documents to review with a very short deadline, and I can’t write them back to ask me to send the file as a .pdf, which is the best option for me. I do include that suggestion as part of my email signature, though.

    MacBU is doing a good job with the resources it has available. I still think that a wider beta distribution would really help generate a stable product for the Macintosh, and for early adopters like myself, that would be a fun thing to do and cost Microsoft nothing. But having had to deal with Apple’s NDAs for so many years, I can hardly complain that the Microsoft BU wants to keep its cards close…although the features of Office for Mac will all be revealed with the release of the Windows version.

    So please, another request to allow people like me who rely on Microsoft Office for our living…and who know how to file a bug report: Open up beta testing already!

    Have a merry Christmas/Hanukah/Kwaanza/vacation (pick one or more)

    Ishan Bhattacharya, MD

  90. Understand that Adobe’s not being quite 100% honest with that statement. If they were to use AppleScript, they can indeed get to the TOC info for their macros. however, they refuse to do anything that isn’t VBA or Javascript.

    The proof of this is in my article on it:

    <http://www.bynkii.com/archives/2006/09/one_reason_why_acrobat_irritat.html&gt;

  91. Steve says:

    Say what you want about Microsoft; good or bad. The reality of it all is Microsoft continues to move forward and pushes the industry into progress. Yes, there are some steps back, but overall Microsoft has done more for the IT industry and the worlds industries in general. Without software the hardware is nothing without it. A two way street, but since us human interface devices are in the software side, here we are.

    I applaud Microsoft in its efforts, progress and marketing. To the Mac Business Unit… keep striving, keep inventing, keep going. Well done.

    ~Steve

  92. WhoMe? says:

    http://docx-converter.com/widget/

    Converter available!  Anyone have docs they can test?  Any good?

  93. sherjo says:

    Steve – thank you. While we read and appreciate all comments (the good, the bad, AND the "ugly"), some days it just really helps to have straightforward encouragement like yours – thanks also for including marketing :-).

    Thanks too to everyone who has commented, and continuing to comment, on this and other posts. Know that you are being heard.

  94. Dan Ridley says:

    I don’t really see why you think the title "Use MS Office On A Mac? You’re About To Get Screwed" is alarmist or inaccurate; it sums up the situation quite nicely. Maybe they should have added "(…but Microsoft promises to make it up to you in 6-8 months.)".

    The simple facts are: your Windows-using friends and coworkers will be sending you files you can’t open for months. After that, you’ll be able to open them with a beta converter that may or may not work very well for several motre months. Your options are: line Microsoft’s pockets by buying Office 2007 now and running it in Parallels, or ask people to down-convert their documents for you.

    This is poor planning, poor management, and disregard for the Macintosh user base. I’m not blaming the MacBU for it, but don’t go calling articles inaccurate when they’re not.

  95. Aaron says:

    Wow, some peoples’ comments are pretty rough!

    With the businesses and organizations that I work with, the adoption of Office 2007 for Windows will be a gradual process. I won’t be receiving any .docx files for at least a little while – plenty of time for the MacBU to get their converters ready. I’d imagine that many of you complaining can stand to wait too. It’s not like every Windows user is switching to Office 2007 as we speak; I highly doubt you’ll be completely SOL. Simply requesting a .doc file is no big deal for me.

    I appreciate the hard work and effort of everyone at the Mac Business Unit, I do love your products; it’s sad to see you folks get flamed when you’re obviously trying your hardest to satisfy everyone with the resources available.

  96. Michel says:

    Hi

    Thanks for the heads-up – personally, not a biggie for me as most of the people around me won’t be on 2007 for a few months anyway.

    On the other hand, will the next office for Mac be able to read and write arabic and other right-to-left text? The current versions can’t do it, as the letters come out separated, which makes working with some of our clients impossible using your app!

  97. Daniel says:

    Nice to know. This way I can definitely take the budget for any Mac:Office upgrade and spend it elsewhere. First no VBA compatibility and now this? I have been testing NeoOffice nad OpenOffice nad like what I see so far. And NeoOffice _will_ support VBA in Q1 07.

    I know you guys try and try really hard and I know you really believe in what you say. But your management above you are dissembling and disingenuous and playing you for pawns. And they hope we are all MacSheep. Sorry Mr. Ballmer, I am not buying it any more. If the iPhone versus Windows Mobile in terms of utility , flexibility, and reliability doesn’t show you all at the MacBU that the company you work for is a very poor one, I don’t know what will.

    I suggest you put your talents on the block, polish up you considerable resumes, and find jobs at a company who is serious about developing great products for the Mac and who compete honestly. It’s a shame your great talents are being under-appreciated and under-utilized. and soon, under-bought.

  98. Geordie Elkins says:

    The Mac BU WILL issue free, downloadable file format converters that allow users to read the new Microsoft Office Open XML Format.

    Will these be available to users of the student and teacher edition or only to pro users?

  99. Schwieb says:

    Geordie, the converters will be available for *all* versions of Office 2004.

  100. JOnathan says:

    Hmmm…does the fact that you haven’t mentioned Office X mean that you’re not planning on releasing converters for it?

  101. leon says:

    I used to use microsoft works (windows 95)

    I bought office 97 which comes with word.

    the song words and the chords above them line up the way i put them in works but since I no longer have works but put my efforts in word my old works

    files just don’t line up anymore.  I can see the problem, especially when a single company fosters compatibility issues from one versiion of its products to another.  I patiently await your converter.

  102. Technet will windows meeting space have clients written for xp machines, or will it not be a useable

  103. Technet will windows meeting space have clients written for xp machines, or will it not be a useable

  104. The dealers-of-lightning over at Parallels put out a new beta (build 3094) of their must-have Desktop For Mac product last week. Holy smokes, it’s cool. First, a bit of history. Parallels Desktop for Mac ("Parallels" for the rest of this article) is a