MS Office 2008 for Mac: new screens and first impressions

Microsoft Office 2008 for the Mac, due sometime after Macworld San Francisco this winter, has been the subject of much obsession among Mac folk ever since Apple started the Intel transition, mostly because the current incarnation of Mac Office, 2004, runs like a dog on Apple's Intel machines and hasn't seen a code change in over four years. While we're satisfied that at least Microsoft is consistent (they often go 4 years between Windows Office releases, too), we were really hoping Office 2008 would've been Office 2007 (or Office 2006).

Lest we digress. There's a new gallery of Office 2008 screengrabs here. We were given an opportunity to see the new software demonstrated, and the rumors about the speed increase are very true. This thing runs circles around its predecessor on Intel hardware, and we're especially geeked about the speed and zest of Microsoft Word. Paginating a 500+ page document on our 2 gHz Macbook Pro only took about 8 seconds. The other thing that's immediately obvious about this new Office is the addition of "object insertion bars" in all the apps, allowing you quick access to objects usually dealt with in other parts of the suite--for example, rapidly inserting a chart into a Word document. Entourage still has a case of the IMAP hiccups, sadly, but its interface has been improved as well. That immobile navigation bar that clogs up the top-left corner of the 2004 version is gone, gone, gone, and we couldn't be happier. All in all, this update appears to be coming along great.

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