Microsoft Teases New Office For Mac 2011 Features

In a video posted Wednesday to Microsoft's Office For Mac team blog, the company shows off improvements to Outlook For Mac, which include the addition of a conversation view and a new-and-improved database that makes the process of finding emails and files less headache-inducing.

Full Outlook integration means no more Entourage, and support for Apple's Time Machine backup software is also part of the package. "In this release, we're bringing Outlook to the Mac," Ryan Panchadasaram, program manager for Outlook for Mac, said in the video.

The ribbon interface is another new addition to Office For Mac 2011, incorporating the Office 2008 Elements Gallery as well as the classic Mac menu and Standard Toolbar. Users that don't want to deal with the ribbon, or who'd rather use keyboard shortcuts, can minimize the ribbon if they so choose.

"We have put the most commonly used controls at your fingertips making it easier for you to find what you need," the Office For Mac team said in a blog post.

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Microsoft is also adding an online gallery featuring thousands of design templates for users that have no design skills or are simply pressed for time.

Microsoft's previous iteration of this product was Office For Mac 2008, and the company claimed it sold three times more than the previous version. The question is, who's going to buy Office For Mac 2011 today? With applications like Parallels Desktop for Mac, it's easy to get Windows and respective applications up and running. And Microsoft's Office Web Apps offer a cloud path to business productivity bliss.

But while the need for a Mac version of Office isn't as pronounced as in years past, Microsoft still believes there's an audience that appreciates the blend of Microsoft and Apple technology that it includes.

"We think Office For Mac 2011 is the definitive version of Office For Mac," Han-Yi Shaw, user experience manager in Microsoft's Macintosh Business Unit, said in the video. "It is Microsoft innovations, but the native Mac look and feel."