Microsoft released the latest version of Office for Mac on Tuesday, though not with as much fanfare as several other product launches.
Although Office for the PC is by far the largest seller of the two, a lot of Mac aficionados have been waiting for Office for Mac 2011 for well over a year.
Three-quarters of all Mac users have Office installed on their machines, according to Eric Wilfrid, general manager of Microsoft's (NASDAQ: MSFT) Office for Mac team.
"Mac users need Office because it helps them work with the Windows world," Wilfrid said in a statement.
In order to accomplish that goal, interoperability between versions on different platforms becomes essential.
In fact, in the latest version, the Entourage e-mail client has been replaced by a purpose-built Mac version of Microsoft Outlook. Besides working with on-premises Exchange servers, Outlook for Mac 2011 will also work with Microsoft's just-announced Office 365 cloud computing service, the company said.
Office 365 combines Microsoft's Web-based Office Web Apps on the client side with Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, and the newly-rebranded Lync Online on the back-end on a subscription basis. The Office Web Apps are versions of the main Office applications stripped down to run in a Web browser, and first shipped last spring with the PC release, Office 2010.
Besides integrating with Microsoft's Windows Live SkyDrive cloud storage service, Office for Mac 2011 also links to SharePoint for collaboration and document management capabilities.
The packages are available as Office for Mac Home and Student 2011, starting at $119 for a single install and rising to $149 for a family pack that allows three installs. Meanwhile, Office for Mac Home and Business 2011 costs $199 for a single install and $279 for a multi-pack that lets the user install it on two PCs.
The main difference between the two is that Home and Business 2011 includes the Outlook client. Users who bought Office for Mac 2008 after Aug. 2 will receive the upgrade for no additional cost, the company said.
More information on pricing is available here.
Microsoft said that Office for Mac 2011 is initially available in 13 countries globally, and the company plans to make the updated Mac suite available in more than 45 in November.