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VBA To Return to Mac; Office 2008 SP1 Released

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Microsoft Tuesday released Service Pack 1 for Office 2008 for Mac, the first major update to what the company called its most successful Mac Office launch in 19 years (in terms of sales volume). In a surprise move, Microsoft's Mac Business Unit also announced that it plans to bring Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) back to the Mac platform with the next major release.

Most Successful Mac Office Suite
Office 2008 for Mac was launched back in January, and Microsoft said today that it has been the most successful release to date, tripling Office 2004's launch numbers.

"The response has been amazing--since we launched in January, the velocity of sales for Office 2008 is nearly three times what we saw after the launch of Office 2004," said Craig Eisler, general manager of the Mac BU at Microsoft, in a statement released to coincide with the SP1 launch. "As we set our course for future versions, we are working closely with customers and will also expand our staff to ensure that Office for Mac remains the most powerful and compatible productivity suite for Mac customers."

Microsoft did not supply specific sales figures for Office for Mac or cite reasons for its success, although Mac sales have been soaring of late, particularly in the laptop market. Last month Apple reported selling about 2.3 million Mac systems in its second fiscal quarter alone, more than half again what it sold in the same quarter the previous year. According to IDC, Apple is now the No. 4 computer manufacturer in the United States (desktops and notebooks combined), experiencing a 25.1 percent increase in market share in the first three months of the year. Gartner's estimate is even more rosy: a 32.5 percent increase. Gartner also reported that it expects Apple's market share to double in the next three years in the United States and Western Europe, despite overall stagnation in the industry.

In the education space, IDC reported back in March that Apple's notebooks were the highest-selling notebooks, topping the list of institutional higher education notebook sales. And things look favorable for Apple down the road as well, as Student Monitor reported in a fall study that Apple laptops are at the top of the "plan to purchase" list for students in the next 12 months.

Office 2008 SP1: Stability, Security, Performance
So what's new in Office 2008 for Mac SP1? According to Microsoft, the latest update (12.1.0) includes improvements and tweaks in the areas of stability, performance, and security across the entire suite, addressing issues brought to Microsoft's attention through customer feedback and reports generated through the Microsoft Error Reporting Protocol.

"With the launch of SP1, the Mac BU is addressing the top issues as reported by customers via MERP and other feedback channels," according to Microsoft.

On the application level, Microsoft Word includes improvements to printing, notebook layout, and document map. Excel adds compatibility with previous versions for both Mac and Windows and also improves printing and formatting for data series. PowerPoint also gains improvements to printing. t also now provides the ability to create Mac .PPTX files that are viewable on Windows Mobile phones. And it improves AppleScript support, offering the ability to "use the PowerPoint selection object in AppleScript to implement custom scripts that operate on the current selection in PowerPoint," according to Microsoft.

On the e-mail front, Entourage adds three major enhancements:

  • Improved Exchange Server support, especially in the area of synchronization;
  • Improvements to the calendar view and support for recurring all-day reminders; and
  • Support for third-party tools for sending and viewing images in Entourage.

Complete information about the update can be found on Microsoft's support site here.

Office 2008 for Mac SP1 is available for download now from Microsoft's Mactopia site here.

Office for Mac Roadmap
Microsoft's Mac BU today also provided a glimpse into the future of Office for Mac, reaffirming its commitment to the platform and promising to bring VBA-language support back in the next release of Office for Mac.

"Sharing information with customers as early as possible continues to be a priority for the Mac BU to allow customers to plan for their software needs," Microsoft reported today. "Although the Mac BU increased support in Office 2008 with alternate scripting tools such as Automator and AppleScript,... the team recognizes that VBA-language support is important to a select group of customers who rely on sharing macros across platforms. The Mac BU is always working to meet customers' needs and already is hard at work on the next version of Office for Mac."

Microsoft had previously published a guide for transitioning from VBA to AppleScript in conjunction with MacTech magazine. That transition guide is available here.

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About the author: David Nagel is the executive editor for 1105 Media's online education technology publications, including THE Journal and Campus Technology. He can be reached at dnagel@1105media.com.

Proposals for articles and tips for news stories, as well as questions and comments about this publication, should be submitted to David Nagel, executive editor, at dnagel@1105media.com.

About the Author

Executive Producer David Nagel heads up the editorial department for 1105 Media's education publications — which include two daily sites, a variety of newsletters and two monthly digital magazines covering technology in both K-12 and higher education.

A 21-year publishing veteran, Nagel has led or contributed to dozens of technology, art and business publications.

He can be reached at dnagel@1105media.com. You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at linkedin.com/profile/view?id=10390192 or follow him on Twitter at @THEJournalDave (K-12) or @CampusTechDave (higher education). A selection of David Nagel's articles can be found on this site.


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