Microsoft sets Oct. 26 launch of Mac Office 2011

Amazon takes pre-orders for revamped suite

Microsoft today announced that Office for Mac 2011 will launch Oct. 26, the date leaked by earlier this month.

Customers can place pre-orders with Amazon starting today.

The revamped suite -- Microsoft's first for the Mac since January 2008 -- features a new look that resembles Windows' Office 2010, includes a renamed e-mail client and boasts the return of Visual Basic-based macros, a tool often-requested by veteran users.

Today, Microsoft revealed a pair of previously-undisclosed features -- the company has been dribbling out tidbits for months -- including a full-screen view in Word that's optimized for either reading or writing, and something the company dubbed Dynamic Reorder that lets users visually shuffle the layers of a presentation or document.

The suite's applications are also considerably snappier, especially at startup, claimed Kurt Schmucker, an evangelist on the Mac Office team, in a video posted to the company's site. "I think what users will notice right away is the launch speed of each of the apps," said Schmucker.

Users have long complained about Office for Mac's startup sluggishness, especially when launching Word.

Home and Student includes Word, Excel and PowerPoint; Home and Business adds the Outlook e-mail client, which replaced the discontinued Entourage.

Microsoft had earlier set the prices of the two versions it will ship next month: Home and Student and Home and Business. Today, Amazon listed the former at $119.99 and $149.99 for one- and three-license editions, respectively, and priced Home and Business at $199.99 and $279.99 in one- and two-license versions.

Microsoft will not sell discounted "upgrades" of Office 2011, as it has for the suite's predecessors, a copycat of the move earlier this year when the Redmond, Wash., software maker dropped upgrade editions and pricing for Office 2010 for Windows.

Customers can save money by buying the current version, Office for Mac 2008, and then taking advantage of a free upgrade offer that Microsoft launched in August. People who purchase Office for Mac Home and Student 2008 -- listed Tuesday for $130 on Amazon, $5 more than just a few weeks ago -- are eligible for the three-license download of the 2011 suite, a $20 savings.

Microsoft will also sell a $99 academic edition of Office for Mac 2011 to college students, faculty and staff. The discounted version will include the same applications as Home and Business, but will not be sold at general retail.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His e-mail address is

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