Microsoft Office 2011 for Mac review

The latest version of Microsoft Office for the Mac is finally here, but is it worth upgrading? Read our reviews of each app to find out.

The icons for each of the Microsoft Office 2011 applications

Microsoft Office is arguably one of the most important suite of programs available for the Mac. Despite the increasing number of competitors, such as Apple's iWork or the free OpenOffice, without Microsoft Office, the Mac would arguably not be viable as a business computer. This makes the latest 2011 version of Office especially important.

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Each of the Office programs is full of features and foibles, so we've dedicated individual reviews to each one:Word 2011Excel 2011PowerPoint 2011Outlook 2011

The biggest change in this version of Office is the replacement of the previous email program, Entourage, with a brand-new Mac version of Outlook. There are plenty of changes affecting the entire suite though. Among them is the Ribbon interface, which will be familiar to Office 2007 and 2010 Office for Windows users. It is designed to make it easier for users to discover and use the wealth of available features in each program. The Visual Basic for Applications scripting language for creating macros has returned - an especially important feature for Excel power users.

A less noticeable and potentially less welcome change is the introduction of product activation to Office. Previous versions simply required a license key, but Office 2011 now has to validate itself with Microsoft's servers during installation before it will work so you therefore can't use the same licence non-concurrently on a desktop and a laptop as you could with previous versions. Although an understandable counter-piracy measure, it could be inconvenient if you have to deploy Office on an office full of computers.

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The biggest competitor to Office is now the Google Apps online suite. Although not as fully featured as Office, and therefore not as capable at creating complex documents, it has proven very attractive to many businesses. This is due not only to its low cost, but also due to its web-based nature allowing easy remote access, lack of maintenance and, most importantly, allowing multiple people to work on a document simultaneously.

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