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Microsoft releases Office 2008 with new Windows compatibility features, but macros are gone

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

By John Rizzo

Microsoft today released Office 2008 for Mac, the first version of the office suite to be native to Intel Macs. The version features improved reliability with Exchange Server, support for Office 2007 for Windows file formats, and a graphics engine that is the same as the one in Office 2007.

Although there are improvements in Windows compatibility, the dropping of support for VBA macros will force some users in cross-platform environments to stick with Office 2004. Mac users can open files containing macros but cannot run the macros. A Microsoft spokesperson said that the company recommends that sites adopt AppleScript for automation, but it doesn't have a recommended strategy for sites that that have Macs and Windows PCs to sharing files with macros. As with previous versions, Entourage 2008 does not support Exchange's native MAPI protocol.

Entourage and Exchange

As an example of improved Entourage 2008 reliability with Exchange Server, a Microsoft representative said that database rebuilds won't be needed as often and are required less than previous versions. The spokesperson also said that there were other changes in the low-level communications between Entourage 2008 and Exchange Server.

Related links at MacWindows

- MS dropped direct Palm syncing in Entourage 2008; issues with BlackBerry, Win Mobile

- iPhone to become direct Exchange client

- Exchange performance degrades with large numbers of Entourage clients

- Office 2008 12.0.1 fixes bugs with Exchange, Word Win compatibility; Office 2004 also updated

- New Office Mac to offer limitted compatiblity with Win Office 2007

- MacTech to help with lack of VBA in Office Mac 2008

- Beta converter turns Word .docx files into RTF, but can't save to .docx

- No MAPI for Entourage 2008, but Kerberos added

- Entourage 2008 supports kerberos for AD, GAL authentication

- Entourage and Exchange Tips and Reports

As we've reported before, Entourage 2008 can use kerberos to authenticate to Active Directory for single sign on and can authenticate to Exchange Server's global address list (GAL). Previous versions of Entourage could not be part of Active Directory single sign-ons. (The included Messenger for Mac 6.0, which is not new, also enables users to add contacts from the GAL to the Messenger contacts list.)

Entourage can take advantage of more of Exchange Server's features. Exchange 2007-compatible resource booking allows Entourage 2008 users to book rooms in a simple manner and without adding overhead to Entourage. A new Out of Office (OOF) Assistant enables users to set up their Exchange account to send a custom auto-reply message.

Microsoft also said that calendar management actions such as Accept and Decline are more consistent with Outlook.

Entourage 2008 has a new companion application called My Day that can display appointments, tasks, and messages in a small space without Entourage being open. Users can create appointments in My Day, which will be automatically transferred to Entourage.

Office 2007 for Windows file formats and graphics

The OpenXML file formats used in Office 2007 for Windows (.docx, .xlsx, .pptx) are the default format that the Office 2008 applications uses to create documents. Users can change the default to the older formats (.doc, .xls, .ppt). Office 2008 can read both formats.

Microsoft said that in addition to providing Office for Windows compatibility, the OpenXML file formats create documents that are up to 75 percent smaller than older formats.

Office 2008 shares the same graphics engine, called OfficeArt, that is used in Office 2007 for Windows. The company said that OfficeArt adds improved "cross-platform file fidelity" and visual eye candy such as refletions, glows, and 3-D effects.

The new graphics engine does not help with movie formats. A Microsoft spokesperson said that movies inside of PowerPoint 2008 presentation are still subject to the same kind of compatibility issues that users have seen when presentations containing movies are moved from Mac to Windows. He did say that embedded movies are a better bet than linked movies.

Office 2008 also supports OpenType ligatures in typefaces.

Office 2008 comes in three versions: Office 2008 for Mac Home and Student Edition (US $150), Office 2008 for Mac (US $400, US $240 for upgrade) and Office 2008 for Mac Special Media Edition (US $500, $300 upgrade). All require Mac OS X 10.4.9 or later and a Power PC G4, G5 or Intel processor.

Office 2008 12.0.1 fixes bugs with Exchange, Word Win compatibility; Office 2004 also updated

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Yesterday Microsoft posted updates for its current and previous versions of Office: Office 2008 for Mac 12.0.1 Update and Office 2004 for Mac 11.4.1 Update. Both address security issues and stability, but the Office 2008 update is the more substantial, with two dozen bug fixes, including some that affect cross-platform abilities. The Office 2008 12.0.1 update also includes performance improvements and includes bug fixes for Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard.

Office 2008 for Mac 12.0.1 also fixes several synching problems with Entourage synching calendars and contacts with Exchange Server. These include problems with duplicate and missing calendar events. Microsoft said that the update will provide "more consistency with changes to the calendar on the Exchange server." The update also fixes a problem with syncing contact lists between Entourage 2008 and Exchange.

Office 12.0.1 also fixes two bugs in Word opening documents created in Windows:

  • Fixes an issue that prevents Word 2008 from opening documents created by Word 2007 for Windows that contain equations.
  • Fixes an issue for PowerPC Macs that causes fonts in documents created by Word 2007 for Windows to display incorrectly when the document in Word 2008.

For the Office 2004 update, Microsoft said that the Office 11.4.0 must be installed before the 11.4.1 update.

If you've seen any of these problems with Entourage 2008 and Word 2008, how well the update worked.

MS to bring VBA Macros back to Office, releases Office 2008 SP1

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Today, Microsoft announced that its next major version of Office for Mac will bring back Visual Basic for Applications (VBA macros), a feature that was dropped from Office 2008. VBA macros are supported in Office 2007 for Windows and 2004 for Mac, but don't run in Office 2008. Users who required macro for compatibility with Windows cannot up upgrade to Office 2008 without losing that compatibility. Microsoft did not announce when it would ship the next version of Office, but it could be several years, given the 4-year gap between Office 2004 and Office 2008.

Microsoft today also released Service Pack 1 (SP1) for Office 2008, the first major update to this version of the suite. The company said that in general, SP1 increases stability, performance, and security. It also makes improvements in Entourage support of Exchange Server. Service Pack 1 improves synchronization with Exchange, including removing attachments from Exchange Server messages and synchronizing to the server. Exchange users can now use AppleScript to edit Exchange Server messages and synchronizing the changes to the server. Microsoft said that Entourage SP1 also includes significant improvements in calendar view and all-day reminders.

Excel SP1 has improved compatibility with files moved between Excel 2008 for Mac and Excel 2003/2007 for Windows. Service Pack 1 also includes a number of fixes and improvements for Word 2008 and PowerPoint 2008.

12.0.1 Office Update broke reader's Excel

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Matthew Pinto reports that last week's Office 2008 12.0.1 update broke Excel, but Time Machine saved the day:

I did not witness the bugs listed prior to the 12.0.1 update but thinking it is good to stay up to date. I updated. Now I show a new fairly Fatal bug in Excel. When opening workbooks I now get an error every time stating "File error: data may have been lost."

My work around was to re-name Excel 12.0.1 application to "Excel 12.0.1 BROKEN" then I was able to restore just the app from Time Machine. This enables me to continue to work in Excel using 12.0 but all other Office apps appear to stay at 12.0.1 and all appear to interact OK. I would say this is a fairly fatal error re-installing from scratch from a CD did not help the matter for me. I'm running on an Intel machine.

if the 12.0.1 update fixed or caused any problems for you.

Another report of Office 12.0.1 file problems

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Erik Akerblom responded to a report last week about the Office 2008 12.0.1 update having problems with Excel:

The Office 12.0.1 update seems to have broken a few random documents, or is correctly identifying some documents as being broken. I have the same error as your reported user "File Error: Data May Have Been Lost" on one particular document, which then opens up fine and appears to have all the data within that is expected. Other documents appear fine. The document in question was not created by me but sent to me from another Mac via email.

I am keeping my install "as is" for now. PowerBook G4, Leopard 10.5.2.

Microsoft update and converter allows Office 2004 to read/write Open XML files

Friday, June 27, 2008

After more than a year of beta testing, Microsoft this week released free software that enables Office 2004 to read and write files in the default formats of Office 2007 for Windows and Office 2008 for Mac OS X. These are the Open XML formats, .docx, .xlsx, and .pptx.

The new software consists of a finished version of Open XML Converter 1.0 and the Office 2004 11.5.0 update, which Microsoft recommends for use with the Converter. The Office 2004 11.5.0 update is mainly to support Open XML Converter, but also adds stability to the Offices apps, according to Microsoft. The company said that the Open XML Converter 1.0 can also works with the older Office X. The Beta version of Open XML Converter cannot be used with Office 2004 11.5.0, however. Microsoft said that Open XML Converter can convert multiple Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files at one time.

The converter has been released much later than Microsoft had said it would be. In May of 2007, Microsoft said the converter would ship six to eight weeks after the release Office 2008, which shipped last January.

This week, Microsoft also released an update to Office 2008 (see related story).

If you've seen this how it worked.

MS releases Office 2008 12.1.1 bug-fix update

Friday, June 27, 2008

This week Microsoft released Office 2008 12.1.1 a maintenance release that fixes several bugs and improves stability. Although Office 2008 does not support VBA macros, the update enables Word to preserve macros contained in files that it opens and saves.

The bugs fixed include an issue with Entourage 2008 that caused it to quite unexpectedly when closed and opened the lid of a Mac notebook, or when waking the Mac from sleep.

The 12.1.1 update requires that Office 2008 SP1 (12.1.0) is installed, and also requires Mac OS X 10.4.9.

Microsoft also released an update for Office 2004 (see related story.)

Office 2008 SP2 required for Entourage WSE; Open XML Converter rev'd

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Microsoft released Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac Service Pack 2 (SP2) yesterday, which includes bug fixes, performance boosts, and a new Document Connection utility for better cross-platform collaboration on a SharePoint site or Microsoft Office Live Workspace. The company said that Office 2008 SP2 will be the minimum version of Office required to install Entourage 2008 Web Services Edition, now in beta. Entourage will drop WebDAV as the communications protocol, and use the Exchange Web Services (EWS) in Exchange Server 2007. Apple is also using EWS in Snow Leopard for Exchange compatibility.

Microsoft also released Open XML File Format Converter 1.1, an update to the free utility for converting .docx, .xmlx, and .pptx files to previous Office versions (.doc, .xml, .ppt). Office 2004 doesn't support the newer file formats, which are the default in Office 2007 for Windows and Office 2008 for Mac.

MS Office 2008 SP2 update may disable pptx compatibility

Monday, July 27, 2009

PowerPoint 2008 no longer opens PowerPoint .pptx files after last week's Service Pack 2 update, according to reports by a reader and posts to Microsoft's forum. The problem may also extend to last week's update of the Open XML File Format Converter 1.1. Graham Norbury reports:

Looks like Microsoft has screwed up and PowerPoint can't open pptx files after the update to 12.2. I've got a one-slide simple PowerPoint file (.pptx) that I can no longer open with PowerPoint. I converted it through Keynote. I guess OpenOffice/NeoOffice would be just as good. Looks like there are a few people with the same problem which may exist in the Open XML File Format Converter as well.

If you've seen this problem This topic is continued...

Office 12.2.1 update fixes SP2 file bugs; Open XML Converter updated

Monday, August 10, 2009

On Friday, Microsoft released the Office 2008 for Mac 12.2.1 Update, which fixes bug in the recently released Service Pack 2 for Office 2008. The Service Pack 2 bug prevented Office 2008 applications from opening Open XML files (.docx, .xlsx, .pptx) files that were created with Office 2007 for Windows. The bug (and the fix) also applied to Word, Excel, and PowerPoint templates.

Microsoft also released the Open XML File Format Converter 1.1.1 Update, which fixes bug in version 1.1 that was similar that in Office 2008 SP2. Open XML File Format Converter is a free utility for converting .docx, .xmlx, and .pptx files to previous Office versions (.doc, .xml, .ppt). The utility is intended for users of Office 2004, which does not support the Open XML formats.

Graham Norbury tried the Office 2008 12.2.1 update and confirmed that it fixes the bug:

FInally Micrsoft seems to have resolved the problem with the Office 2008 12.2.1 update. With SP2, I discovered that I could open some .pptx files, but many I could not. However, now with 12.2.1, so far I have opened all the files without any problems.

If you've tried the update to Office or the File Format Converter

MS security updates for Entourage 2008/WSE and Office 2004/2008

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Yesterday, Microsoft released updates to all of its Office applications. The updates are Entourage 2008 Web Services Edition 13.0.4, Office 2008 for Mac 12.2.4, Microsoft's Office 2004 for Mac 11.5.8, and Open XML File Format Converter for Mac 1.1.4. The updates fix security holes to protect against malware.

The update for Office 2008 also includes some improvements for Excel 2008, including fixing issues that cause Excel to unexpectedly quit and to incorrect format imported text. It also improves performance of print drivers in Snow Leopard.

Open XML File Format Converter is a free utility that can convert newer Office formats (.docx, .xlsx, and .pptx) to the older formats (.doc, .xls, and .ppt).

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