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Office 2004 for Macintosh: A first look (Part II)

updated 10:35 am EST, Wed January 14, 2004

Office 2004: first look II

Microsoft highlighted a new Notebook Layout view in Word 2004, which brings the familiar notepad metaphor to to its word-processing application. Designed to help users visually and structurally organize information, Word Layout View offers the ability to quickly take notes, search and flag relevant information. Using the "look and feel" of ruled notebook paper, it shows only the most important commands and offers several tools for helping quickly create outlines; action items (a.k.a to-do's) with checkboxes; collapsable text sections with custom, automatic headings; and other note-taking functions. Users can also instantly search for text within the document, with the resulting words highlighted in the document for easy visual identification.





Word Notebook View also offers the ability record audio directly into Word documents. Using the MPEG-4 codec built-in to QuickTime, the function records audio from the internal Mac mic on laptops (and other external mics) directly into the Word file. Files sizes are typically 16 KBs/sec using the MP4 format, although users can choose WAV and AIFF formats. Users can visualize the audio level via the "audio monitor" in toolbar. Word 2004 also provides automatic time-stamps within the audio file, allowing users to simply click anywhere in the document to access the specific portion of the audio associated with the text. Users without the newest version Office can still open/view documents created by Word 2004, but will not have access to advanced functions, such as audio, audio time-stamps, checkboxes, etc.





Microsoft also showcased Excel Page Layout, which brings the familiar layout view metaphor to the industry-standard spreadsheet application. Excel 2004 offers a new view that allows users to preview spreadsheet documents in a page-layout view, offering a live preview of an Excel document with page breaks and margins. Users now can view and manipulate directly in the spreadsheet exactly what they'll see on paper, including margins, headers, footers and page count.


The Compatibility Reports in Office 2004 are designed to help users determine document compatibility. Users can run reports from within any document save dialog and the toolbar provides a visible, blinking "caution flag" when Mac-only or advanced features may provide compatibility issues with other versions of Office 2004. These reports detail items that may be problematic on another platform or with older versions of Office, providing the option to automatically fix them. For example, running a detailed report on a PowerPoint document will flag a rotated object within the presentation, offer users a solution, and prompt them to change or ignore the item.


Microsoft Office 2004 will support any Mac with a G3 processor running Mac OS X 10.2.8 or later. It requires 1,024x768 or higher monitor resolution with support for thousands of colors. Office 2004 will be available in a Standard Edition for $400 (Word 2004, Excel 2004, PowerPoint 2004, Entourage 2004 and MSN Messenger 4.0); Student and Teacher Edition for $150 (same as Standard Edition, but discounted pricing); and Professional Edition for $500 (includes Virtual PC 7 with WinXP). All editions will be offered in English, with certain editions localized in French, German, Japanese, Spanish and Swedish.


Microsoft announced a "technology guarantee", which offers a free upgrade to Office 2004 for any new purchases of Microsoft Office v. X for any purchase of Office v.X between January 6, 2004 and 30-days after the product is released. The promotion also provides inexpensive upgrades to the Office 2004 Professional Edition: $90 from Office v. X Standard Edition and $130 from Office v. X Student and Teacher Edition. The promotion is valid throughout the United States and Canada, as well as internationally.




by MacNN Staff

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Comments

  1. MacNN.com Reader

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    It looks ok to me, but

    I also think they fall short in many aformentioned ways with compatibility issues. Still, the upgrade pricing doesn't seem out of line. Oh, and first post.

  1. MacNN.com Reader

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    Access?

    Disappointed. I thought this would be included.

  1. MacNN.com Reader

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    *^&^*&

    Tell them you want to see Access compatibility. If enough people scream, they should have no problem doing it.

    Also add: Visio to that list too.

    The Upgrade pricing seems very good. But, how's the speed????

  1. MacNN.com Reader

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    again... powerpoint...

    Hopefully they will bring the aforementioned (elsewhere) special animation effects up to par (or exceeding) the WinOffice XP and 2003 versions, as well as whole slide-on-margin view. Also still curious for confirmation of unicode support, which rumor sites already mentioned will finally be supported in Office 2004.

  1. MacNN.com Reader

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    Exchange

    1) no REAL Exchange Server compatibility = no upgrade. get you sh*t together M$, just do it!

    2) Visio? why would you want that? Omnigraffle 3.0 tramples Visio.

    3) Access? you're kidding, right?

  1. MacNN.com Reader

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    Page Layout View

    You mean, like in ClarisWorks 1.0?

    http://www.ithink.ch/blog/archives/2004/01/07/punishment.html

  1. MacNN.com Reader

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    $90 for Upgrade AND VPC7?

    If you currently have Office v.X, the article indicates you can get the new Office 2004 PLUS Virtual PC 7 (Office 2004 Professional) for $90? This seems unbelievably cheap!!!

  1. MacNN.com Reader

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    Yeah

    I agree, full Exchange compatability is a deal-breaker. As are long file names.

    Anyone know if it will be coded in Cocoa?

  1. MacNN.com Reader

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    Re: Yeah

    Unless it has been Cocoa before, probably not.

    Just curious, but why do you care if it is done in Cocoa or not?

  1. MacNN.com Reader

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    Home/EDU use

    I'm more curious about speed upgrades and the notetaking feature in word. I'm not using Exchange in an office environment or even personally - so I could care less. From what I've read, I guess the Exchange compatablity is not so great...

    The new notetaking feature seems familiar to different products I've seen. AquaMinds makes a note/organization tool was well. Wonder how that would stack up against Word? (I'm sure AquaMinds is far far less expensive).

    I'll try it out since it's 12 dollars at the university I work at. Otherwise, I can't imagine a home user paying $400 for this suite...

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