UPDATED 11:36 EDT / OCTOBER 26 2010

Microsoft Releases Office 2011 for Mac OS

Office 2011 is now available for Macintosh along with a number of additions, including Visual Basic scripting, Outlook, and online collaboration. Ars Technica has a short article on the announcement, but reveals on the totality of innovation seem to still be rather sketchy.

In addition to Word, Excel, and Powerpoint—essentially the standards for word processing, spreadsheets, and presentations in the business world—Office 2011 also includes a brand new version of Outlook, the combination e-mail, calendar, and contact management application. Outlook 2011 is engineered to connect with Microsoft’s Exchange enterprise e-mail servers, so Mac users in corporate environments will most appreciate the change.

Additionally, Office 2011 supports Microsoft’s online collaboration tools such as Windows Live SkyDrive, Microsoft SharePoint, and Microsoft Office Web Apps. Office 2011 users and Office 2010 users on Windows can simultaneously edit documents from any location with an Internet connection. The return of VBA scripting means complex documents with special forms, macros, and other features from Windows colleagues will be completely accessible. And, new photo editing and layout tools also make it easier to create visually rich documents without having to rely on other apps.

The addition of online collaboration also bulks up the product quite a bit. Especially noting the number of cloud- and web- based online collaboration suites freely available (like Google Docs/Office) it’s in Microsoft’s best interest to press their own advantage before they’re left behind. Combining the power of Office’s Track Changes tool with the ability to collaborate online should create a powerful collaboration suite from within Word, Excel, and other Office applications. The added value can only help to bolster the loyalty of already existing customers and hopefully draw in new users.

Office 2011 can be found for purchase from Apple, Amazon, Best Buy, MacMail, or directly from Microsoft starting from a suggested retail of $149.99 for the standard Home edition—and Business edition at $279.55. And, if you happen to be a lucky student, the academic bundle can run around $99.95, but some schools might be able to offer it even cheaper. Microsoft is well known for these different versions, which are often extremely similar but may include or exclude various apps within the suite.

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