Update on Office 2008 progress!

Last Wednesday was our general “ZBB” target for the Office 2008 project, a major milestone on the road to release and something we’ve been pushing hard for over the past several months. We saw some fantastic surging by the development team to clear out backlogged product issues late into Wednesday night. Thursday, we sat down to review project status and metrics in depth, and to hear all teams report out on their plans and readiness to lock down for release. The bottom line takeaway that you may be most interested in: all teams have confirmed readiness to ship on the current schedule. As previously announced, this means RTM in December and general availability starting on January 15th (by region).

ZBB what? This stands for Zero Bug Bounce, or as alternately phrased, Zero Bug Backlog. At this point we have been logging, tracking and verifying all changes to the product in great detail for some time – collectively we refer to this list of logged issues as the “bug list”, though in reality it includes a variety of issues including bug/defect reports, tracking records for artwork or content, usability improvements, numerous suggestions (submitted by team members or beta testers, or representing customer or partner requests), and various other categories of issues. The ZBB milestone is defined as the date across which we will no longer carry logged product issues that are more than one week old. Hence, the “backlog” of issues has been cleared out, and all older pending decisions on what we are or are not going to change before we ship have been made. It also means that the developers have “caught up” or “outpaced” the incoming find rate of our test efforts.

From here on out, the focus is increasingly on lock down. We are testing for defects literally around the clock, using a variety of methods ranging from automated efforts such as “massive file testing” to targeted manual test passes and “ad hoc” free testing. We also continue to log and fix significant issues found in private beta testing. At this point we remain busy fixing bugs as they are found (any one of our millions of lines of code could be the source of a defect,) but there will now be increased scrutiny on making changes – i.e., is there sufficient customer need to justify a proposed code change given the associated risk of regression (the outside chance that making a given change causes a new and potentially more severe problem.) Stabilizing the product for release requires conscious commitment to slowing and eventually stopping the changes we’re making to it, and as a result we now start reviewing all proposed changes daily in “triage”.

I’d like to congratulate and thank everyone on the product team for an amazing effort on ZBB – our developers, testers and program managers have all done incredible work. I’d also like to thank every other person who has helped in the creation of Office 2008: planners, researchers, designers, artists, writers, editors, builders, product managers, recruiters, HR generalists, international teams, MVPs, beta testers, partners, vendors, contractors, our many friends at Apple, partners across Microsoft, and many others have all helped us get this far. Finally, a very sincere special thanks to all of our families and friends for their support during this push.

Collectively we’ve made nearly four years worth of heavy investment in modernization, improvements and features in Mac Office. We look forward to continuing to share more about the new suite here on the blog and out in the world straight through RTM and into next year. But, as folks like to say, at this stage of the project the most important feature is shipping.

We’re getting more excited about that feature every day.

Comments (55)

  1. Warren says:

    Before you get flooded with stupid questions by those pesky Entourage users, I’d just like to say congratulations! Can’t wait to see the final product 🙂

  2. Congratulations to the Office for Mac Team and the Mac BU. I look forward to seeing and experiencing the final results of your years of hard work.

    You guys have definitely been through a lot. Disruption during regular development because of Intel Transition, dropping of VB support, supporting a environment for your development processes, creating a universal version of Office in the process, dropping features and tools such as Virtual PC, supporting the changes in the Office for Windows release while modernizing and improving user experience and bringing new innovation to market. Thats a lot, and ensure it works in the process that should definitely be commended.

    Although I would like to see whats new in Entourage 2008, I know it will come in due course. We have the essential information such as the SKU line up, system requirements, pricing and we do "know" there will be some form of significant improvement to Exchange support in this release.

    Keep up the good work, I hope you all get a well deserved break after Macworld in January.

  3. poster2 says:

    About that full exchange client…

  4. sladuuch says:

    I agree that it’s an impressive milestone, but really, is the self-congratulatory back-patting necessary?  In private, you guys are more than welcome to be as elated as you want, but this is the public face of your team and your work.  We want to see the fruits of your labors, not how happy your are for doing what you promised you’d do.

    Do you see Apple employees clamoring about how impressed with themselves they are for accomplishing their stated goals before or during a product roll-out?  No?  Maybe that’s because Apple prevents its employees from blogging, fearing the same king of brand tarnishing you’re inadvertently engaging in here by publicly expressing ecstasy at having merely met your own goals.  It raises questions such as, "if they get this happy when they’re on schedule, does that mean they’re behind most of the time?" and "Wow, these guys impress easily.  I wonder if that means their standards aren’t very high.  That sure explains (*insert pet peeve bug here*)"

    I’m happy Office 2008 is on track.  I’m extremely happy with the screenshots and progress reports posted thus far.  I realize you guys are working exceptionally hard, and I truly do appreciate your efforts.  But constantly declaring how hard you guys are working gives the wrong impressions.  If you’re working that hard, shouldn’t the quality and quantity of the output be self-evident?

    I’m happy to say that in the last few weeks, it has, and we’ve gotten a lot of great information.  But really, keep it to that.  If I seem overly critical, it’s because it seems that you guys only started to ramp up the display of your output when there was a critical mass of dissatisfaction, having been content to promise that you had been working hard with no visible evidence save your own self-congratulatory back-patting.  I’m as happy as the next guy that we can now see the the evidence, but all the self-praise is a just a bit worrying, and I don’t want to see you revert back to your own ways.

    In other words, Optimistic But Still Concerned.

  5. Jordan K says:

    Isn’t there always the fear that after spending four years on modernization, there is the possibility that the program is not really modern and is still lagging behind it’s windows counterpart?

  6. DAG says:

    Congrats on a huge project.

    Quite a while back, both MS and Adobe developers were having problems using X-Code on big projects such as yours. How did you overcome the bottlenecks? Was it improvements to X-Code from Apple or work-arounds figured out internally? Would make an interesting post.

  7. Andy K says:

    Congrats on getting to ZBB. Getting close to a roll-out stage is quiet an achievement. Here’s to a smooth final push.

  8. 60six says:

    Give us a BETA to play with! Then you really find out how good your testing is!

  9. James Arscott says:

    great news!

    I still find it strange we have not seen at least a feature list for Entourage yet. At this stage surely that is easy to sort out and post?



  10. Jake says:

    Sounds like there’s no reason, then, not to be able to tell us all we want to know about Entourage, right?  😉

  11. Big Dave says:

    Is there ODF support yet?

  12. eponymous says:


  13. Andreas says:

    Hi folks,

    I’d like to use the .docx conversion utility for Mac, but the download link here on Mactopia is as dead as a doornail 🙁

    Thanks for fixing that, regards,


  14. Dale says:

    Does Entourage finally have MAPI support? Or is it still going to be a compromise email application like it is today? The original Outlook client of OS 9 was miles ahead of where Entourage is today. Hopefully things will "progress" and we’ll have a real Mac exchange client. Otherwise all this work is for naught.

  15. Brian says:

    Public Beta!

    Public Beta!

    Public Beta!

  16. Jack75 says:

    Any chance to get Right-To-Left support in this version ?

    It is a very long time request since Office is available on OS X.

    Another question, since most the screens now are wide screens, why did you put the templates bar above, it use almost 50 % of the screen …

    Hoping there is a way to put it on the side.

  17. Ron says:

    It does appear that you have a very good product soon to be released. Congrats!

    I have waited a long time for this release, so I can wait awhile longer – I hope.

    Why – "I hope"? Reading most of the posts I have failed to see if hyper-links have been improved. Under 2004 it takes forever and a day to use hyper-links. And if you get it to work – the links have at times been lost for no unknown reason.

    To compensate for this I have been forced to use a regular PC and within the last few months I have been able to use VMware with Office 2007. On any given day, I will use this function several times – linking from an index file created in Excel to numerous files (100+) created in other applications including Word.  

    I am really hoping I can do all of this with 2008. Surprisingly this is the one feature that is more important to me than VB or Exchange. If this is rock solid, I will update immediately.  

  18. Talal B says:

    I’m just wondering. Will the final release incorporate Right-to-Left support? If not, will there be a patch to address this issue after the final release? If Office for Windows has been doing it for years, I’m sure Office for Mac can!

    Oh, yes. A public beta please 🙂

  19. Zach says:

    @Talal B:

    Unfortunately, there is no additional RTL support in Office 2008.  Quoting from Eric Paquin’s comment on the September 25 localization post:

    "BiDi languages and Unicode support has not change [sic] since 2004."

    As for a patch to address this at a later date, obviously I have no idea – I only know what I read here.

  20. John W. says:

    You must be sick of us asking, but please give us some real info on a REAL exchange client…  Something…  Anything…  Isn’t it obvious from the posts that this info is what many people here want?

  21. gf says:

    public beta! entourage 2004 is killing me!

  22. tim says:

    Will this be appearing on MSDN for us Mac devs ?

  23. 60six says:

    Can the next post be Entourage only please?

    Being intel macs nowadays, surely porting ol2003 wouldn’t be that difficult – then we can all sleep easier.

  24. Ron John says:

    One thing that you can do on the Windows version of Outlook is change the Subject of any email and save it. Currently this cannot be done in Entourage. Its a feature thats very helpful for organizing email so when you sort by subject emails are grouped together (ex. you put a ticket number in front of the subject and sort by subject all the emails that start with the ticket number follow each other).

    Please add the ability to edit/change email subject after they are received.

    Its the small details that count. Oh, adding appointments to iCal via invites would be great too.



  25. doughlaundry says:

    Not gonna happen. Maybe Office 2012?

  26. Rich S says:

    Yes, it is good to see progress. But RTL support is crucial for any kind of multi-lingual exchange with Win Word. How is it that Win Word has had that for years, and it is still isn’t on the Mac Word? This needs to be one of the tope priorities (along with Entourage)!

  27. goli6919 says:

    Let Complex Scripts ( Right to Left ) get in Office 2008 !!!!!!!

    Pleazzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzze !!!!!!!

  28. sammy says:

    Yeah, give us some dirt on what you found was bad with xCode and what Apple did to fix it. That would be really interesting.

    Also what is the best about developing on the Mac-plattform and whats bad. Whats easy and whats simple.

    And MacBU…no more stuff in our  ~Documents folder ok?

  29. Adrian M says:

    Have you fixed the error bars in Excel?  Real standard error bars would be great.  I should say real standard error bars which are correct and don’t require usage of the “custom” error bars.

  30. Jake says:

    > Can the next post be Entourage only please?

    Unlikely.  It’s clear that what most people here want to know about is Entourage and yet it’s the thing we read least about.

    Why, you might ask?

    I’m beginning to think it’s simply out of spite.  They publicly pat themselves on the back about how close they are to being done and how good it’s going, yet can’t be bothered to address what they’ve been repeatedly asked about.

    It’s not like they don’t know the answers to our questions.  Yet not only do they refuse to answer, they refuse to tell us why they refuse to answer.  (I always picture MacBU trying to take a page from Steve Jobs and trying to be mysterious about things until the last moment, not comprehending that it doesn’t work in this case.)

    I guess ignoring these questions, yet taking the time to answer other questions here within some of these posts, is cheap thrills when you’re hunched over a computer coding and testing all day.

    It’s about 2 months until the discs are sent off and we still can’t get straight answers to very basic questions.  

  31. Andy K says:

    It’s also telling that the macoffice2008 site has had some additions in the past couple weeks on things other than Entourage. And these extras push the solitary entry of "My Day" off the end of the initial view.

    Heck, the only feature we *do* know about is a virtual PDA, and we don’t even know if any physical PDA will be supported out of the box. It might not be asked as often, but "Can I sync my Windows Mobile PDA/Phone" is also kinda useful for both office and home use.

    Please, release some information or at least explain why we’ve gone unanswered for so long. As right now, it would take a lot to overcome the vocal negative feelings.

  32. Dude says:

    I’m inclined to agree with Jake on this one.

    Great. The MBU has reached a ZBB state for Office. Stands to reason that the features are now in a lock-down or near lock down state. Thus new features are NOT being added at this stage of the game and certainly not additional Exchange functionality features . Now take the next leap of logic. My guess: Exchange connectivity is no where near where it needs to be for feature parity.

    The continued silence regarding Exchange is speaking volumes. The Mac business group knows EXACTLY how Entourage is functioning with Exchange at this stage of the game. The Mac business group has heard volumes about Exchange from the feedback here and knows exactly what people have been asking for:

    * Anything less then full feature parity is going to result in nothing less then Office 2008 for Mac blowing up in the MBU face.

    * Anything less is like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.

    I hate to say it, but the Mac Business group and Mircosoft itself is at a crossroads. Some would say "how can a company making billions every quarter be at a crossroads"? Simple:

    1) Other tech companies are no longer scared of MS. Google sure isn’t.

    2) Linux and the open-source movement. You can’t undersell free.

    3) Exchange is the monopoly, not office.There are now plenty of competitors working on solutions. Leopard Server anyone? Plug in anything from Sunbird, to Outlook, to what have you. All at a fraction of the cost of Exchange.

    There are many more examples off the top of my head (Entertainment division money pit: ala the Zune, x-Box, etc…) and some do not effect the Mac Business Group directly, more of an indirect issue facing the company as a whole. This next release is critical in every sense of the word.

    This speaks to the root issue that most of us have with Microsoft: We use MS tools not because we love them, but because we have to. Right now there is no replacement for Exchange (though many are coming). Thus we are forced to tolerate the issues of Entourage 2004. However viable alternatives are rapidly coming to the fore.

    I am not a betting man in any way, shape, or form. I am however willing to bet the farm on this: Lack of proper Exchange connectivity is going absolutely sink Office 20008 for Mac. As of right now there is no compelling reason why anyone at home needs to buy Office for Mac. iWork will do everything that a home user needs, barring that Nissus, Abi-word, OpenOffice, Neo Office, etc, etc… Office Mac’s last great stronghold is the business users because of Exchange. And now I know of quite a few companies that would love to get out of Mircosoft’s pricing "model" on Exchange completely, but can’t, although alternatives are starting to be suggested.

    The sad thing is that we want you guys to succeed. We hope you realize this, because buy extension when we succeed, you do, vice-versa. We want Entourage to be great, we want to give you our money, yet it seems if you don’t want our money. I see no compelling reason to give said cash for Office 2008 nor my users. All the while the main feature that would garner said cash is not being spoken about.

    To recap: the lack of information on Exchange with 3 months to go till launch is not reassuring, let me reiterate, 96 days to go… not a lot of time for a project of this magnitude, as you well know.

  33. eponymous says:

    They’re not answering b/c the answer is no.  They will not give us the Exchange client we want.

  34. six strings says:

    to the Mac Business Group bloggers :

    take a leaf out of Chris Pratley’s book whilst developing OneNote or Jensen Harris’ while Office 2007 was coming along : answer the questions, concerns, hopes and fears of the hungry readers.

    The readers really appreciate you blogging and our respect for you and your credibility soars when you respond to feedback the way Chris and Jensen did.

  35. MacManWA says:

    @Jake and @Dude

    …have hit the nail on the head.  There just isn’t any reason at this point in the game not to be showing anything other than My Day (they have to be nearly done with Entourage at this point).

    The correct guess I’d imagine is that they have done little to Exchange improvements outside of the new OOF functionality they talked about in this blog.  The reason for the silence is that there would be such a big backlash PR-wise at them for making such a huge 3-4 year investment (as they say) in this new release, making big improvements in all the other apps, and completely ignoring some of the biggest glaring problems with Entourage (and its interaction with Exchange).

    So at this point they are keeping the red-headed stepchild locked in the closet until launch…

    Prove me wrong MS and show us all the great new things you’ve done to improve Exchange support in Entourage 2008.

  36. doughlaundry says:

    Given the obvious passion that the Mac Office team have about their individual products (and you can take that any way you like, personally, I find it borderline repellant, but hey-ho…) it’s odds on that they would have already posted the amazing news about Entourage 2008 that you’re expecting.

    I’ll recap: It’s not happening. Look for a clue in the application My Day that appears to be a repackaging of stuff you already have in Entourage, but in a new/exciting use of your Mac’s screen estate!

    I fear the changes are going to be cosmetic. I really hope that I am dead wrong.

  37. Geoff Price says:

    DAG – some of both, and sheer determination.

    Jake, eponymous, John W and others – We are expediting some of the planned posts from the Entourage team on Exchange improvements.

    60six – Intel doesn’t make porting easier in general (sometimes in some details), though it does enable better virtualization.

    Jack75, Talal, Rich S, goli6919 – Zach (citing Eric) is correct, we have not added right-to-left language (layout/editing) support in Office 2008. We have expanded the number of fully localized versions we’ll be releasing (to eleven), and have various enhancements to Unicode and international functionality, but we have not done the additional (very significant) work required for right-to-left complex scripts.

    Ron – we’ve actually made some improvements to hyperlink handling in Excel, though I’m unclear based on your description whether the issues you are seeing are addressed by this.

    Adrian – not sure what the issue is, a good question for Stuart (who posted recently on charting).

  38. Jennifer Louise Baron says:

    Have you included open document support in this version of office. Without it Office is a non start for my company as the directors will only allow open standards.

  39. Dude says:


    While appreciating your candor I am utterly floored……. Just who thought “waiting till later for posts about Exchange connectivity” (thereby meaning Entourage) would actually be a good thing?????

    Seriously just how many times do we have to re-iterate this to you guys???? Are we not shouting enough?

    So here goes again: Entourage and its connectivity  to Exchange is the single biggest point of contention/need/want, etc for the vast number of users. Its functionality or as some of us are betting, lack there of, is beyond important at this stage of the game, its critical. Its the single biggest thing we want to hear about, yet its the single thing we hear about the least.

    In case you haven’t noticed the natives are getting/are already restless.

    Its almost as if you guys are trying to build excitement about Office:2008 by releasing teasers (duh right?), which normally I would applaud you for, but doing it in totally assanine way isn’t winning you any friends. In fact its doing nothing except antagonizing an already disgruntled user base.

    If you had the luxury of time (you don’t) or the goodwill of your user base (don’t have that either) you could do these things. Since you don’t, please stop with the shenanigans and get on with Exchange connectivity;  I’d rather have the bad news now rather then later.

    The only other thing I can guess you are waiting for is the release of Leopard. Other then that please re-red my previous post for guesses as to why no mention of Exchange thus far other then OoOA.

  40. dbm says:

    I am one of those Exchange Administrators that have a mixed environment of Windows and Mac computers. We are currently using Office 2004 and Mac users have iWork 08. At this point, the ONLY reason we could justify upgrading to Office 2008 is if Entourage 2008 is a proper Exchange client. I’m not alone.

  41. MacManX says:

    As I’m working in a mixed Win/MacOS environment I’m really pleased to read about all the new features in Office 2008 and how it will work with Office 2007

    We’re using Live Messenger a lot, so one thing that really interests me is:

    Will Office 2008:Mac ship with Messenger 6 or will there be a shiny new Messenger?

  42. Kevin Handy says:

    Any chance anytime soon that anyone at Microsoft is going to start taking the Mac community seriously – let’s see we have Word, PowerPoint, Excel and Entourage – are we supposed to be grateful? Don’t get me wrong Office 2008 looks great – but I’ve heard features like macros have been dropped.  And has anyone compared the list of Mac apps versus those in the Window portfolio at Microsoft – I’m seeing some inequities here and wondering very hard why that is. I see some anit-Mac pro Windows bigotry going on here. If it’s a market issue I have to wonder whether or not Asia and Europe are serious markets or not – little alone the larger populations of Mac users in California, Texas (yes we’re not all Dell users) and Canada – not to mention the rest of America.  I’m just looking for some application parity – I look at 2007 Office features and Office 2008 and frankly I’m seeing lots and lots of differences – and feeling a little cheated. Can someone enlighten me please?  I’ve been using both the Windows and Mac versions of Office since there was no GUI version for anything but the Mac.

  43. ray says:


    Is Office 2008 for the mac going to support the new laTex-like equation editor present in windows office 2007?

  44. Mac Mojo says:

    Another city, another expo! I’ve been travelling on and off since Apple Expo in Paris giving some Office

  45. Any word on Palm/Treo sync support… as in an Office 2008 version of the Handheld Sync Installer?

  46. Dave Patterson says:

    Will this be available on the Volume licensing site in December when it RTM’s

  47. Posters in the Microsoft newsgroups report they have purchased Microsoft Office for Mac 2008 or the beta, which was still in testing as of October 8. These reports spurred Emma Grant of MacBU to respond to one poster in the newsgroup and confirm that

  48. Piet Van de Steen says:

    Just been through the announcements. To be honest, is this what you have been working on for about 2 years. Plain stupid marketing tricks with stupid templates only geeks like.

    Hope there is more then looks.

  49. Peter Fagan says:

    If ZBB becomes too much of a tongue-twister to constantly intone in-house, go with "Zaphod"

  50. Bug with korean IME says:

    When will the bug with korean input method be fixed? I usually use korean, and the bug in word 2004 makes me crazy.

  51. rsomich says:

    Since getting the i-phone, i am being puashed to use everything Apple, address book, ical, etc, but my whole life for the last 4+ years is Entourage.  will the new Office allow my to sync my iphone and stay connected?  thanks.

  52. Geoff Price says:

    You can use Sync Services (look for Sync Services preferences in Entourage and your Apple apps) to sync contacts and calendar items across Entourage, the built-in Apple apps, and your iPhone. This is true for Entourage 2004 and 2008.

    See here:


  53. Trev says:

    About Sync Services, I haven’t used it lately but when i used it when it first came out, many fields were not synched. I assume this is because of the difference in field set up between Mac, Exchange, and whatever phone one uses…

    Wouldn’t it be useful if there were some way to map the fields so that you could be sure you’re syncing all your info?

    I used to have to do that when I was using a palm.

    I think even there are some fields From Exchange that don’t show up in Entourage like contact photo or whatever… Surely, that can be fixed?

  54. Trev says:

    I totally agree with what others have said here about Entourage needing to be a full Exchange client.

    I see no reason to buy Office 2008 it if it isn’t. It would be the ONLY reason to upgrade and if it isn’t, Office 2008 will do just fine until some alternative comes along. Supporting it partially is just frustrating.

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