Less overtly obvious if you have a recent, and thus powerful, Mac is the speed boost the latest Office offers over its predecessor. Nonetheless, applications definitely open faster and Excel in particular benefits from some much faster complex mathematical calculation speeds.
A feature being touted as new to Office 2011, but which we’ve actually already seen before is Microsoft’s suite of Office web apps. Unlike rivals, such as Google Docs, these online versions of Word, Excel and PowerPoint aren’t intended to serve as full-fledged online alternatives to Microsoft’s desktop suite, but rather as a complement; while documents retain formatting applied on the desktop, there are fewer editing options on the web versions.
Sticking with the web theme is perhaps a more important addition to Office for Mac 2011: comprehensive web-based collaboration features. Using either a SharePoint server, if your business has one, or simply a Live account and Microsoft’s SkyDrive, it’s possible to have multiple authors work on the same document at the same time.
How much freedom to edit files is available depends on the program in use. Excel, for example, only locks users out of cells being changed by another person, whereas Word locks out entire paragraphs at once. It’s not exactly Google Wave, but it is arguably more useful.
An interesting addition to Word pinched straight out of the Pages handbook is the Full Screen view. As the name suggests, and as Pages users will recognise, this put focus solely on the pages you’re currently editing, blacking out the background (by default; other colours are available) and auto-hiding the toolbar at the top of the screen. Annoyingly and inexplicably, unlike Pages’ full screen mode, there’s no word or page count, which is an odd omission.