The speedy retirement of Office for Mac is not new: Users faced the same five-year support lifespan for Office for Mac , which was shut down in January Admittedly, that was over two years later than the original deadline.
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Microsoft extended support for Office for Mac to allow its users, many of whom relied on Visual Basic-based macros, time to migrate to the impending Office for Mac , which launched in October Office for Mac dropped support for Visual Basic macros, but that support was restored in Office for Mac They can also opt for a "perpetual" license of Office for Mac , the traditional kind that is paid for once, but can be used as long as wanted.
Customers, however, have less than three more years before Office for Mac falls off Microsoft's support list in January Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. His email address is gkeizer computerworld.
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- Publishing tools?
More from the IDG Network. Creating complex, graphics-rich documents requires tools historically found in powerful page layout programs such as Adobe InDesign or QuarkXPress.
My test results
That environment is Publishing Layout. The biggest downside in what would otherwise be an excellent upgrade: the elimination of Visual Basic for Applications VBA.
In its place, Word offers limited support for AppleScript and Automator. The first and most obvious interface change is the new toolbar. It sits at the top of your document window, rather than being tied to the menu bar. They were too easy to accidentally rearrange and contained way more buttons than most people used.
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The Document Elements button, for example, lets you quickly add or modify cover pages, headers and footers, or a table of contents. By adding articles, Web sites, books, and other materials to this database, you can easily add them to your document. Previous editions of Word had limited versions of this feature, but it was not this obvious or easy to use.
For example, depending on what was selected in my document and which disclosure triangles were opened, the Formatting palette sometimes outgrew my screen—even when I was working on a inch iMac. Closing those disclosure triangles took care of this problem, but it would be nice if Word worked more like Pages, which uses a tabbed format for document options and which allows you to open more than one floating palette at a time. Publishing Layout offers a bunch of tools for placing and manipulating text and graphics on the page.
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Like Pages, Word allows you to create template documents with image and text placeholders; you can drag and drop images and text into those placeholders, making it easy to turn those templates into new, fresh documents. You can also link text boxes so text overflows from one to another. While it is possible to add masks and transparency and make minor adjustments to images in your document, the program is nowhere near as adept at it as Pages.
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Another thing I noticed: the longer I worked in Publishing Layout mode, the slower Word seemed to get when manipulating images or moving text boxes around on the page. Word adopts the new, XML-based. That format makes Word compatible with the latest version of Word for Windows.