Office is arguably the world’s most popular productivity suite, with millions of consumers around the globe using Microsoft products to create documents, send and receive emails, manage spreadsheets, create presentations and so much more. While originally developed for the Windows operating system, Microsoft has been creating a Mac version of its productivity suite for several years. This allows computer users to easily use documents on a variety of different systems, eliminating conversion issues and other problems that can crop up when exchanging files with those who use other operating systems. Let’s dive in to see how Office for Mac 2011 measures up.
The center of the Office for Mac suite, Microsoft Word is no doubt one of the best word processors available. Office for Mac 2011 brings an assortment of new features, including the ability to collaborate with other document authors in real time. Layers can be managed easily, making it simple to create a complex document that uses different visual and text tools. Visual style guides are also on the table, which help streamline the document creation process, giving computer users a simple way to verify that items have been placed in the right location.
The Word interface itself remains largely unchanged from the version of Office for Mac which was released in 2003. Unfortunately, some of those changes would be have quite welcome. The software continues to make changes and modifications in documents in manners that are meant to be “intuitive,” but in fact end up being quite a bother. Ultimately Microsoft Word simply feels clunky and outdated, especially in comparison to what Apple offers users through its proprietary program, Pages. For those who simply cannot live without Microsoft Word, Office for Mac 2011 does the trick. Other users will likely be just as happy, if not more so, with the less expensive options available from Apple.
PowerPoint is perhaps the most influential software ever created for creating slideshow presentations. In fact, many consumers still refer to these slideshows as “powerpoints.” PowerPoint too has been upgraded in Office for Mac 2011, with features like photo retouching and layer management. Microsoft is also supporting cloud-based storage, making it possible for PowerPoint authors to view their content from anywhere. All of these features are enjoyable, helping to make the PowerPoint software feel fresh and ready for the modern user.
Unfortunately, PowerPoint comes with a myriad of challenges. Perhaps the most serious of these problems is that the product simply doesn’t work with some Macbook Pros linked to projection systems. While the problem does not appear to affect every user, there are plenty of Macbook Pro users who have been unable to get the presentation tool to work correctly. In some instances, documents created with PowerPoint on a Macintosh are not able to be viewed on Windows versions of the product, and vice versa. This is a serious complication that can be hard to iron out entirely. Unless users are sold on using PowerPoint, Keynote from Apple is a viable alternative that ultimately feels much less buggy.
Known to spreadsheet users around the globe, Microsoft Excel is a business staple for many home and business users. The version of Excel found within Office for Mac is relatively robust. It too has been spruced up with an assortment of new features, including automation of repetitive tasks, data management tools, and the ability to display groups of data through what is known as “Conditional Formatting.” Excel too, is supported by cloud storage, making it easy for Excel users to share their work with friends and colleagues.
The downside to using Excel on Mac is simply that the program exhibits plenty of bugs when complicated spreadsheets are created. Most users likely won’t encounter these problems, as they don’t tend to manifest until codes become increasingly complex. Nevertheless, this is a problem for those users who would hope to use Excel in the same manner in which it is used on Microsoft computers.
Another major problem that can’t be overlooked is that Excel cannot import many files that were not created on the Mac. For example, if information is received from a colleague who has created files that use ActiveX on Windows, those spreadsheets are not accessible. Why Microsoft did not create a conversion engine of sorts that would make these documents viewable on Mac is unknown. What it does mean, however, is that users who purchase Excel in order to easily exchange spreadsheets with Windows users will likely find themselves feeling disappointed by the experience.
For many years, Outlook aficionados have touted the vast benefits of using Microsoft Outlook, instead of the Mail software found on Macintosh machines. As Mail has become more advanced, however, the benefits that Outlook represents have gotten smaller and smaller. This is particularly true for Mac owners who also use an iOS device, such as an iPad or iPod. The ability to easily sync and share information across platforms in Mail means Outlook has an uphill battle if it wants to come out on top.
Ultimately, the question with Outlook is not so much, what is wrong with it, but rather, what can it do that a Mac cannot presently do? For most users, the answer to that question is nothing. Furthermore, it won’t sync with iOS devices. This renders Outlook rather useless for most Mac users.
Office for Mac 2011 is ultimately what most users who purchase it will expect: a version of Office that runs pretty well on Mac machines. There is nothing revolutionary, per se, about the software suite, but for those who simply cannot give up Windows productivity software, Office fits the bill. For most users, the cost of Office for Mac 2011 will be enough to deter them from purchasing it. Not only are Apple’s proprietary solutions, available through iWork, less expensive on the whole, but they are also better equipped to run on the Mac. Furthermore, the inability to work with some documents cross-platform, makes settling on Office for Mac 2011 a tough sell.