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VBA to return in next version of Microsoft Office; SP1 released

Mat Lu

Macworld UK is reporting that Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac saw record sales since its release, becoming the best selling version ever. Of particular interest, however, is that Microsoft has announced the next version of Office will return Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) to the Mac platform.

You may recall that one of the big brouhahas connected with Office 2008 was the elimination of VBA, which was present in Office 2004 and earlier versions; Microsoft suggested that users rearchitect their macros and automation with AppleScript. While it's generally a good thing for third-party applications to support AppleScript thoroughly, in this case it created a lot of problems for cross-platform users since the Windows version of Office depends on VBA for macros. While it is possible to duplicate some (though not all) VBA functionality with AppleScript, cross-platform macros were completely broken, leaving some users, especially in corporate environments, unwilling to upgrade from Office 2004. In this light, it is good news that VBA will return, though no timeline is yet available.

In addition to the roadmap announcements, today Microsoft is also releasing Service Pack 1 for Office for Mac 2008 with a host of improvements, including improved compatibility with Windows versions and better printing support. It should available for download at noon PDT from Microsoft or via Auto Update in Office. Full change list in the continuation of this post.

Update: Mac BU developer Erik Schwiebert has a post up on the revitalization of VBA; he originally discussed the decision not to implement it for Office 2008 here.

via MS press release:

With the launch of SP1, the Mac BU is addressing the top issues as reported by customers via MERP and other feedback channels. Office 2008 for Mac SP1 features key suitewide updates for increased stability, increased security and overall performance improvements. Users also will find application-specific updates, including the following:

Microsoft Office Excel

* Compatibility. Improved compatibility with files exchanged between Excel 2008 for Mac and Excel 2003 and Excel 2007 for Windows
* Custom Error Bars. Restored formatting option on the Error Bars panel for data series
* Printing. More reliable printing for elements on Excel 2008 workbooks

Microsoft Entourage

* Calendar. Significant enhancements to improve calendar view and all-day reminders with reoccurrence
* Exchange Server support. Overall improvement to synchronization support, including removing attachments from Exchange Server messages and synchronizing to the server, as well as support for editing the contents of
Exchange Server messages via AppleScript and synchronizing the changes to the server
* E-mail images. Ability to send and view images in Entourage from third-party tools

Microsoft Office Word

* Printing. Improved accuracy when orienting tables with cell shading
* Document map. Improved reliability and responsiveness to select items
* Notebook layout. Updated formatting, recording status and a variety of display options

Microsoft Office PowerPoint

* Printing. Improvements to eliminate crashing when printing documents to high-dpi printers and increased overall printing speed by 10 times on some large presentations
* Mobile viewing. Ability to view Mac .PPTX files on Windows Mobile phones
* AppleScript. Ability to use the PowerPoint selection object in AppleScript to implement custom scripts that operate on the current selection in PowerPoint

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