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Mac BU slowly releasing Office 2008 details

Scott McNulty

Microsoft Office: no matter what your feelings are about Microsoft as an entity there is no denying that their eponymous office suite is an important application for the Mac. Sadly, the newest version, Office 2008 for the Mac, has hit some bumps along the development path and has been delayed until January 2008 (one assumes Macworld 2008 will be its coming out party). There is a limited beta going on, but few have been invited to participate and the only glimpse into the next version of Office that most Mac users have had has been right here on TUAW with our gallery of screenshots from Macworld 2007 (which, I should point out, Microsoft was nice enough to provide to us).

Now comes word that the Mac BU (that's the Microsoft Mac Business Unit, which is responsible for most Mac software that comes from Microsoft) has started to post some new tidbits about Office 2008 for the Mac on the Mac Mojo Blog. They'll be sharing more and more info as the ship date gets closer and closer.

During Macworld I was able to sit down with some Microsoft folks and get a brief look at where Office 2008 for the Mac stood at the time. I was very interested in seeing the next version of Entourage, since that is the one Office app I use everyday. Sadly, at that time Entourage 2008 was so unstable they weren't comfortable showing it to me. Luckily, for me, the first new feature highlighted by the Mac BU is one that is new to Entourage 2008: Out of Office replies. That's right, in order to set Out of Office replies in an Exchange envirnonment Mac users are forced to turn to the Exchange web interface (which offers few options for Out of Office replies). Entourage 2008, paired with Exchange 2007, allows Macs users to set Out of Office messages, as well as configure different messages to be sent depending on who is emailing you, and have the message automatically turn itself off after a certain time (which is killer).

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