Mac Office 2004 Launched

Mac Office 2004 Launched

Since Mac Office 2004 is available in stores, we've announced that it's available. For those of you who follow Mac news sources, you already know this. But, Joe Wilcox, over at Jupiter Research, posted a nice article about Using Office 2004.

When you ship a piece of software, there's always a period of anxious anticipation as you wait for the first reviews to come out. You never really know how well the product is going to be received until then. Stories like Joe's are no small part of the juice that keeps you wanting to go back and do it all over again.



Comments (25)

  1. D B L says:

    Here is the New York Times review:

    Just got mine yesterday. I have to agree. It’s a nice polish, but not terribly exciting. The project center will certainly be useful, but where are the performance & functional enhancements of basic elements (faster search, in entourage for example).

    In this office I’m the guy who approves upgrades and I’ll approve upgrades if people request them, but I certainly won’t mandate upgrades as I did last year for Photoshop 6->7.

  2. This is the review that i’ve been spreading around the net for the past 12 hours or so… remember, it contains unicode, and i don’t know if this blog supports it…

    After playing around with Entourage 2004 (to me the only reason I need office, the new word, and excel are just gravy) for a few hours, I just wanted to share my first impressions:

    The Good:

    ? I like the little popup notifications in the corner when I have new mail. Although now that I think about it, its a bit Windowsish – not that’s a bad thing.

    ? I like the grouped sorting. I always sort my messages in the order in which they are received, descending. Entourage groups them so I have little blue headings for Today, Yesterday, etc. This helps me organize my email better.

    ? The other nice thing is that you can tell it to hide read messages. I have this set on all my mailing list filtered folders to keep track of things a bit better.

    ? I’m quite happy to see that I can *easily* use certificates so that I can digitally sign my messages. (assuming that you can figure out how to import them in the first place, see below)

    ? Unicode Support! (need i say more?)

    ? The last new feature that I enjoy with the new Entourage is that you can finally control the autocorrect settings without waiting for word to boot.

    The Bad:

    ? The Entourage database is bigger than v.X.

    ? Grouped sorting sorts the groups ascending or descending, depending on your settings, but it only sorts the items in the groups ascending. I haven’t found an option to fix that. (Yet. Anyone have any suggestions?)

    ? Changing folders with a lot of messages seems a bit slower, probably due to those Today, Yesterday etc. headers, and the hiding of read messages.

    ? Entourage still doesn’t have a grammar checker.

    ? Creation and/or importing of certificates is anything but obvious. This isn’t even made clear in Help. It took me 20 minutes just to find a link to the Microsoft website that than had links to several Certificate Authorities. Then the one I chose (because the page said that they are free and trusted) was anything but clear as to how to create a certificate (no longer Microsoft land I know) and Entourage doesn’t trust them to boot, so I can only assume that neither does anyone else’s email client.

    The Ugly:

    ? I think the new icons are a throwback to the Office 98 days. They are flat and ugly, I want my aqualicious icons back. 🙁

    ? When I tried to install the new Handheld Sync Conduit, the authentication box said "Hendhel-" (with a cut off ‘d’) instead of OK. And than it turned out that it was the same old handheld conduit that shipped late in the Entourage X life.

    ? I don’t get enough information in that little popup notification box. I would like to customize what information is shown. For example, i would like to see who sent it, the subject, the 1st few lines of the body (number configurable by yours truly) and what folder the message wound up being filtered to.

    ? I can’t move the little popup notification box. It is stuck in the lower right corner

    ? The popup notification box only seems to appear when I get new mail and Entourage isn’t the currently running application.

    ?  Preview Pane on the right doesn’t give me enough options on the mail list on the left. I want more than 2 columns of information!

    ?  The IE 5 font rendering bug that causes random lines to not be antialiased (or AA’d differently?) until the text is selected has moved into Entourage. I thought i was rid of that when i switched to Safari…

    I think I’ve run out of first impressions.

    I’ll do Word, Excel, and PowerPoint as I play with them.. Eventually…

  3. regarding the handheld sync installer, it turns out that it _ISN’T_ the same version as the one for Entourage X, it’s just that the readme was never updated! (shame on you for missing that Microsoft, thats the kind of mistake that an amateur like me would make :P)

    i only figured this out after i tried to sync my PDA and it was much to quick to have actually done the sync.

  4. Rick Schaut says:

    Nate, send the Entourage comments to the folks who do the Entourage blog ( Use the "Contact" link on the upper left-hand part of the home page.

    Also, since you have a web site, post your thoughts there, and send a link around. Saves bandwidth, and other people’s server space :-).

  5. Steven Collier says:

    Is Mac Office 2004 going to be put on MSDN Universal ? If not why not ?

  6. Rick reports that "The Mac Word MVPs have told us that we’ve vastly improved the behavior with respect to bullets and numbering. Grab the test-drive version off the Mactopia web site, and let me know if your experience matches theirs."

    If so, that will be worth the price of Office 2004 all by itself, in my book.

  7. why didn’t i think of that? *blush*

    anyway, i’ve now got my feedback consolidated at and i’m sending that contact the same URL 🙂

  8. Will Robertson says:


    Any comments on Bare Feats’ numbers below?



    May 20th, 2004 — Is MS Word 2004 for Mac faster than MS Word X for Mac? Short answer: NO.

    Long answer: We ran our three typical WP tests with a 250 page document on our PowerBook G4/1.5GHz.

    Word X

    Find/Replace 7 sec

    Spell Check* 14 sec

    Scroll Thru** 11 sec

    Word 2004

    Find/Replace 30 sec

    Spell Check* 21 sec

    Scroll Thru** 23 sec

    * "Check spelling as you type" and "Check grammar with spelling" turned OFF in Preferences. Otherwise it takes "forever."

    ** View set to "Normal. "Page Layout" View takes "forever."

  9. David R. says:

    In general I love the new Office… but there is one little bug that is driving me bananas:

    Entourage 2004 doesn’t use the OS X System anti-aliasing prefs…. it just seems to ignore them. As I get lots of text tables I always use a fixed width font and almost all of these look horrible when smoothed. Also on my portable I prefer the folder list in a 9 point un-anti-aliased font. Entourage 2004 just smooths everything regardless of your system settings! Consequently things look horrible! So bad that I don’t think I’m going to upgrade to Entourage 2004. I live in email and just can’t stand this. Even worse smoothing prefs are respected for bold fonts so you get some smoothed and some unsmoothed…. yuck…. it’s the little things…

  10. It is the little things, and currently, font handling in Entourage 2004 is HORRID. Well heck, most of Entourage 2004 seems to be a kludgy upgrade. Project Center? Don’t want it. Weird views that don’t quite work right? Don’t want it. Three-up viewing? Nope – can’t customize the columns. What’s left?

  11. ripps says:

    Font handling in Entourage is indeed awful. I too am bothered by the fact that entourage ignores my antialiasing system prefs when rendering folder lists and whatnot…

    3 pane is great on my 23incher but useless on my powerbooks.

    I do like project center and I love that Entourage now works with Exchange.

    Entourage is a great mail client, but I wish MS had focused on core functions… I don’t understand for example, why searching the database takes so long on a system with 3 gigs with memory… Also rules are still kludgy to set up.

    Mail does seem to be catching up to Entourage and given the pace of change it will overtake Entourage which probably won’t be upgraded until 2006.

  12. Rich says:

    I have used Word since 5.0. I had ordered Office 2004 last week, but still haven’t got the new computer (which is due today).

    One thing that changed in the last three upgrades (I have skipped Office v. X) was the view of the Style sheet dropdown in Word. It changes so that the style sheet reflects the percent zoom – and it is very irritating. In other words, if I am working at 50% zoom on a Word document, I don’t expect the style sheet to show at 50% but it does. I know of no other product (on the Mac or Windows) that does that), and for those us us who are a little older, such a change is unacceptable (I can’t read the styles). Is there a "good" reason that it changes?

  13. Rick Schaut says:

    Ripps: I’ll share your comments with the Entourage team, but you can send them directly via the Entourage blog (see my comment above for the link).

    Rich: The reason the control follows the zoom is to give a more accurate preview of what the style will look like when applied. You can turn this off in Word/Preferences/General, where you can uncheck the "WYSIWYG Font and Style Menus" option.

    By the way, the new Style panel on the formatting palette in Word 2004 doesn’t follow the window zoom scaling.

  14. Rich says:

    Didn’t mean to use as a form help session, but thanks for the quick response. I had thought it was a programming issue, not an end-user issue.

    What’s strange is that I typically uncheck ALL "auto" stuff in Word anyway. I wonder how I missed that?!

  15. kevin park says:

    Thanks for the link for the Entourage blog. I’m also bothered by Entourages shoddy anti-aliasing and will send feedback. Example: If I turn off anti-aliasing at below 10 points and have 9 point list items, most list items are still anti-aliased (ugg). Stranger still, some items (things in bold and the occasional odd item are not anti-aliased… the mix of antialiased and non anti-aliased is particularly ugly. The preview pane renders correctly…

    Aside from this quirk, I like the new entourage, but wish the BU had spent less time on the project center which I will use rarely, and more time on fast searches and sorts and smart folders.

  16. Rich says:

    I finally received my copy of Office 2004 (along with a new eMac). Most of my work so far has been in Word 2004, with minor email setup in Entourage. I must say that I find it well done and a definite improvement over previous versions (although 5.1 was tough to beat!).

    Anyway, job well done on the product.

    My next goal is to assess Excel and the new "Center" in Entourage. Look forward to it.

  17. Drew Provan says:

    I had hoped Microsoft might have sorted out the font menu problem with this version. If you use additional fonts the dropdown is HUGE. Can they not group fonts into families like Illustrator/Photoshop/InDesign etc? If you want a font like Symbol you have to scroll through miles of menu. Is there any fix for this (e.g. 3rd party software like Font Reunion)?

  18. Rich says:

    Noticed a problem yesterday about VBA. Even with simple commands like Range("A1").Copy, when stepping through (using F8), an error is given: "Copy method of range class failed." When recording a macro it writes it properly, but then when stepping through, it flags an error. I submitted and error report to MS.

    Not good.

  19. R L Mudge says:

    Finally got my copy of Office 2004… and mainly I love it (I’m upgrading from 98… actually 2004 pushed me over the edge to get a new Mac as well… G5).

    Entourage is speedy and stable and mainly a joy to use. My favorite new features are:

    Previews on the right… perfect for my new 23 incher.

    The little pop up windows that show new mail on the desktop. Suggested improvement – let the user decide how long the window-lets stay up… I’d like mine persistent please.

    And of course the junk mail handling which is working very nicely for me.

    Solid exchange support!!!!

    On the negative side…

    I am bugged that universal fonts for html aren’t grouped at the top of the font menu for html mail.

    I am bugged that I can’t customize entourage toolbars and menus like I can word menus/toolbars.

    I am bugged by the fact that entourage doesn’t respect global font smoothing prefs (worse it sometimes shows small fonts smooth, sometimes not…seems random).

    I am bugged by the fact that I can’t set smtp servers from a global popdown (I travel between several locations which require alternating smtps)…

    but these are minor complaints that (I hope) will be fixed in a maintenance release otherwise, very very nice.

    Word and Excel are polished and speedy. I have virtually no complaints. The only thing I can think of that I would add to word would be a clever way to do "mores" and "continued…" breaks for screenplays with paragraphs that break across pages. Otherwise the only thing I would ask for in future releases is better HI and faster faster faster.

    Overall outstanding work.


    Big fan of the Mac BU (I for one wish you still were doing a version of explorer for the mac).

    p.s. One third party program that really makes entourage complete for me is GoBetween which allows me to sync entourage with all my isync apps. This means that iCal, address book & my phone are now all on the same page with entourage. If you use these apps GoBetween is a godsend.

  20. Rich says:

    Well, nuts!!!! Again. After more experimenting the bug is bigger than I originally thought.

    1. The good news is that if I don’t step through the macro, but just run it from the worksheet, then the copy/paste method works fine. The bad news is that this bug applies to Cut method as well.

    2. Even worse, [b]there is no way to make a copy of the worksheet[/b]!! Yep. CTRL + Click the worksheet name, and select MOVE OR COPY…, the dialog box appears, and shows each worksheet, and the option to "Create a copy…" When that is checked and clicked OK, nothing happens. I tried it from the Edit menu as well. Nothing!!

    Microsoft needs to get on this!

  21. Rich says:

    Further testing, the second problem I noted was my own installation issue. The first problem still remains (stepping through a macro using F8 will error on COPY, CUT, or PASTE line).

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