Excel was developed first for the Mac and then created for Windows.
Al Fasoldt's reviews and commentaries, continuously available online since 1983


Office for the Mac needs more work

Nov. 28, 2010

By Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2010, Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2010, The Post-Standard

   Microsoft was the first company to make software especially for Apple's Mac computers. Few Windows users realize that one of the mainstays of Microsoft's Office program, Excel, was developed first for the Mac and then created for Windows.
   But that was back in the 1980s, an eon ago in Internet time. These days, Microsoft makes only a small effort to cater to Mac owners -- producing software such as mouse drivers for Macs, in case a Mac owner decides to buy a Microsoft mouse -- except for one major exception: Microsoft Office.
   Office, as you know, is the main productivity software for offices and many homes throughout the world. The three major components of Office -- Outlook, for mail and personal organization; Excel, for processing numeric data, and Power Point, for on-screen presentations -- are essential parts of daily life for millions of people.
   This makes a Mac version of Office very important. While there are competitors for Office available for Mac owners -- Apple's own iWork software is a splendid alternative -- there's no substitute for the real thing if you want complete compatibility.
   The newest release -- Microsoft Office for Mac 2011 -- has Excel and Power Point, as did previous versions, but instead of the clunky Entourage e-mail/productivity software included previously, Office 2011 includes a Mac version of Outlook. This is good news if you've been an Outlook user on Windows and have recently switched to the Mac, because Outlook for Mac will seem familiar, and you'll be able to switch without much of a hassle.
   Outlook for Mac is also a good choice for offices that use an Exchange server and have a mixture of Windows and Mac computers. The Mac version, like its Windows counterpart, mates well with Exchange.
   But as an experienced Outlook user (and huge fan) on Windows, I found the Mac version in need of more polishing. In Windows Outlook, I can drag anything into an Outlook folder for storage, something that can't be done in Outlook for Mac. There are a few other annoying differences, too.
   Microsoft Word in Office 2011 is sluggish and, like all other versions of Word, a little buggy. (Word users surely are used to this.) Excel almost matches the Windows version in features. Power Point does very well; I prefer the Mac version over the Windows version, mostly because of the way the Mac makes this sort of thing easy.
   Office 2011 discounts for as little as $130. Check online discounters, then see if local stores can match the price. Get the Home and Student Edition so you can legally install it on multiple computers.