When Microsoft invited us down for a quick peak at Office for Mac 2011 prior to its launch next month we obviously jumped at the chance. Considering the massive improvement Office for Mac 2008 represented over its predecessor, and in light off all the announced changes (fare thee poorly, Entourage; how do you do, Outlook?) for 2011, it's nigh inconceivable that the latest version of Microsoft's productivity suite will prove anything but a resounding success.
Paradoxical though it may seem; the changes manage to bring the new version of Office more in line both with Office 2010 on Windows and with OS X as a whole. The obvious import from Office 2010 is the ribbon interface, although in a concession to the knowledge that a number of Office users really don't want to use it, this can be turned off.
OS X flavouring comes partly in the visuals and animations in the Office applications, but mostly from tighter integration with Apple's iLife applications, with support for importing photos from iPhoto using the Faces, Places and similar categories. It's a small change - it's not like you couldn't organise your files into folders yourself before - but if you've spent much time using a Mac, you'll definitely appreciate the time and effort saving it entails.
Microsoft is making a big deal of the "cloud" aspects of Office for Mac 2011. Office's web apps may have been around for a little while, but the option to open from, save to and edit documents stored in "the cloud" is now built into Office. Collaboration with Windows Office users is now possible, too. And PowerPoint has a new web publishing option, letting you push a presentation out over the 'net without having to send the source document.