PROS / The familiarity of Word, Excel and PowerPoint on a Mac.
CONS / Microsoft Office does not integrate well with native Mac programs.
VERDICT / Despite integration problems, Microsoft Office for Mac is an excellent office software suite.
It’s no surprise that Microsoft, the granddaddy of office software for the masses has produced a top-rated product in the Microsoft Office for Mac software packages. Microsoft has proven they know what it takes to develop a strong suite of office software; they’ve been doing it since the mid 1990s. This entrance into the Mac market is marked by the same quality known in the PC version. Microsoft Office for Mac claims the Top Ten Reviews Silver Award for Mac office software.
The best features of the Microsoft Office software suite for Mac are the features that are familiar. The mere fact that Microsoft continues to develop its successful office software suite for Mac users shows that a sizeable group of Mac users still need or want what they know.
Microsoft Office is the standard in schools and places of business across North America. It has dominated most other office software packages. All of the familiar components are there: Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Each retains the familiar tools and capabilities that made these programs the yardstick for PCs everywhere. These are the programs that children learn in school and parents use at their place of work.
Users who are new to the Mac world will be comforted by the fact that Microsoft Office for Mac is almost exactly the same as it is on a PC. All that changes is the location of the tools. Finding where the features are is the only slight learning curve if you are familiar with Office for PC. However, if you are familiar with Mac products, then this program will fit right into what you are comfortable with. Microsoft did a surprisingly good job of making the PC program behave and look like a Mac program, which is impressive, as office software is very complicated.
Microsoft got to its present ubiquity by making office software that could support anything. Once again, nothing really changes from the PC version to the Mac version. The website cites the fact that you don’t need to worry about importing or exporting file formats. This is a great relief, as more and more file formats seem to crop up every year. Simply knowing that you'll be able to open any text document, spreadsheet or presentation can go a long way in easing your mind and making you feel comfortable.
Microsoft developed this office software so users could work and share documents across platforms, from PC to Mac and vice versa. What good would this program be if it couldn’t facilitate this? There are a few holes in exporting with Microsoft Office for Mac, like QuickTime. But this is understandable since QuickTime is an Apple file format; these holes seem to be more due to patents held by other developers rather than processing power. Microsoft has done absolutely everything it can to make exporting files easy and rewarding.
The only downfall of Microsoft Office for Mac is that it wasn’t developed with Mac in mind. Unlike other programs designed to work with the avenues used by Apple, this office software was designed more to work like a PC within a Mac. It makes sense on paper that Microsoft wouldn’t want to change the overall functions of their program to behave like their competitors. Instead they created software with one foot in the Mac world and one foot in the PC world. It doesn’t work with other applications developed by Apple for the Mac, like iTunes or other iLife software. It’s doubtful that you could control a PowerPoint presentation with your iPhone.
At present, it just isn't possible for the Microsoft Office software suite to sync up with Apple software like iTunes because of copyright issues. Perhaps in the future, we will see a true integration of Microsoft and Apple products, but currently the rivalry is too big. However, the lack of integration isn't a very big problem. Macs come bundled with software for email and instant messaging as well as many other features. Even without being able to sync with Microsoft Office for Mac, there is plenty of functionality to go around.
Ease of Use
The Microsoft Office software suite is the standard for a reason. Its initial use is very straightforward. The no nonsense system isn’t going to distract you with a cartoon paperclip asking if you are trying to write a letter. The lack of frills makes it easy to focus on what the core features are. Microsoft has continued its streamlined approach, losing some of the maddening shortcuts that were present in earlier incarnations of Microsoft Office.
The overall trend for Microsoft Office to become more streamlined may reflect a desire to mimic Apple's approach to software design. Or maybe Microsoft simply wants to create more user friendly products. Either way, Microsoft Office for Mac 2011 is easier to use than previous iterations and brings many welcome changes with it, continuing a line of great office software.
Help & Support
Microsoft Office for Mac relies on an extensive help and how-to area through its website. This is great for a quick refresher on how to use the more advanced tools and features of the software. If you perhaps missed an area of expertise with this suite, the website has you covered with easy to follow “learning roadmaps”. Keeping the steps short and simple and providing video accompaniment, the website is a great source of knowledge. If you are searching for a very specific problem, it may take a little digging, but it’s probably been covered. They have to provide ample avenues to understand their software if they hope to keep up with Mac as it continues to muscle in on Microsoft’s territory.
Microsoft Office for Mac is the old guard. Its familiar tools and features are a welcome addition to the Mac universe. Microsoft Office is unmatched in its power and capabilities and the Mac version contains most of that power. Anyone looking for Mac office software, should definitely check out Office for Mac. By maintaining the strength of the PC version, Microsoft Office for Mac easily ranks among the top Mac office software programs.