There was a time not so long ago when we booted up our Windows OS, browsed the web on Internet Explorer, managed our life with Outlook, did our jobs in Office and our social network was our list of contacts on Windows Messenger. Thankfully competition has stripped most of this unilateralism away - but Office seems to be the major product people just can't distance themselves from and it is even thriving on the Mac...
This week sees Microsoft announce 'Office for Mac 2011' and though the bizarre choice of labelling it 2011 would suggest it is somehow more progressive than the yet to be released Office 2010 for PC, they are actually very similar indeed.
The big news (and something we've touched on before) is the return of Outlook for Mac replacing Entourage. Personally I find the experience of using Outlook akin to coming off skis at high speed, but I understand it is often a corporate necessity and there are far worse desktop clients around (*cough* Lotus Notes *cough*). There will also be full support for bite your tongue Gordon PST files, so data can easily be imported from a PC.
On top of this is 2011's move into collaboration with new co-authoring tools allowing users to work on the same documents simultaneously and track one another's edits, while the introduction of Office Web Apps again mirrors the same online sharing functionality as Office 2010.
Lastly, 2011 finally sees the Mac edition add the love it/hate it 'ribbon' UI that has existed in since Office 2007 on PC. I'm actually a big fan and it is one of the main reasons I still use Word (that and the real time word count!). As Microsoft points out, most Mac owners also use a PC quite regularly - so it brings greater consistency cross platform (unless your PC has an old version of Office, in which case you'll just get more confused).
Microsoft has yet to put a formal release date on Office for Mac 2011, simply stating it will be available later in 2010, which shouldn't be much after Office 2010 for PC. Yes, way to confuse your audience Microsoft.
In related news Microsoft is considering a version of Office for the iPad - and presumably, therefore, for the iPhone and iPod touch. There's little to go on here other than T3 asked Microsoft Senior Product manager Mike Tedesco about the possibility of Office on the iPad and he replied "Yeah, it's something that we're looking at."
Don't hold your breath.
Office for iPad via T3