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Summary

Our Score

9/10

Review Price £188.00

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Whether you're a Mac or a Windows user it's fair to say that at some point you'll have come across Microsoft Office . Even many die-hard anti-Windows/Mac evangelists will still concede that there is still one product produced by the Redmond-based giant that remains the de facto standard in its field, whether they like it or not. And, while Microsoft Office 2007 has been available on Windows for a while now, it has taken a while for the latest iteration of that package to become available on Mac. Thus, it's time for us to don our evaluative hat and take a gander at Microsoft Office for Mac 2008 and see what strange creatures dwell there.

The last version of Office for the Mac was released four years ago, oddly enough under the name of Office 2004, and was in itself a huge overhaul from its predecessor, Office 2001. Unfortunately there were a few problems; for a start, 2004 was initially intended to run on PowerPC architecture processors, a parade rather rained on when Apple decided to adopt Intel processors instead, which as we all know use the x86 architecture (or x86-64 on 64-bit systems such as Leopard).

Basically, because the PowerPC code wasn't natively compiled for the x86-excecuting Intel chips, Office 2004 has to run under an emulator called Rosetta (stop me if you know any of this) which, keeping things simple, was a hog on system resources and made the considerably faster (in terms of processor power) Intel Macs run Office slower than their PowerPC counterparts in some cases - a counter-intuitive state of affairs to say the least. Office 2008, of course, scraps all that and is coded using all-powerful Universal Binaries, which means that depending on what type of CPU you have the program will use the best kind of code for it; the proverbial win-win situation.

There is a downside to that though, in that the move to the new coding structure has required a small sacrifice from the Office 2008 development team - Visual Basic for Applications is no longer supported. This could pose a huge problem to businesses wishing to upgrade because VBA is, despite being an absolute pain to actually use, an extremely useful tool. Nonetheless, Microsoft claims the development time to allow VBA code to execute on Intel chips would have been implausibly long so out it has gone along with a fair number of sales if I'm any judge.

As well as these behind-the-scenes changes Microsoft has also given the visible interface a bit of an overhaul, as with Office 2007 for Windows. In short, before I give it to you in long over the following pages, the whole look and feel is just a bit more, well, Mac-like. But enough of the generalities, you're going to want to take a look at the specific programs I don't doubt, so let us venture onwards and inwards. Ladies and gentlemen, please keep your arms and legs inside the vehicle at all times and above all: enjoy the ride.

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