Microsoft has announced that the next version of Office for Mac will arrive by the 2010 holiday buying season, and it added that the new version will include a version of Outlook.
Outlook for Mac will replace Entourage, the current email and calendar program in the Mac Office suite. Although it will still differ from the Windows version of Outlook, it will add support for more Exchange features, such as public folders and rights management features.
Office for Mac had a version of Outlook in its pre-Mac OS X days, but Microsoft switched to the Entourage program with Office for Mac version X because that version lacked a good connection with Exchange.
The software maker has worked over the past several years to add better Exchange capabilities to the email software.
Apple, too, has worked to support Exchange within its own mail program and has said it will add improved Exchange capabilities from within Mail as part of its forthcoming Snow Leopard operating system. Eric Wilfrid, general manager of Microsoft's Macintosh business unit, said on a conference call that he couldn't really talk about how Outlook for Mac will compare to Snow Leopard, in terms of Exchange support, since Apple hasn't yet released the new operating system or detailed how the Exchange support will work.
Wilfrid also said he had nothing to say about rumours that Microsoft might be working on mobile versions of Office for the iPhone.
"That's been a popular question," he said. "No, there is no news today about any iPhone work."
Microsoft also announced a partnership with Nokia this week that will see it creating mobile versions of the Office applications for Symbian phones.
Microsoft also plans to bring Visual Basic support back in the next version of Office for Mac, but it didn't share more about the features that will be part of Office for Mac. In addition, it said it will launch a new "business edition" of its Office for Mac product that adds improved connections to SharePoint and Exchange Server.
Office 2008 for Mac Business Edition will launch on 16 September 2009, and for the first three months the RRP will be AU$499, before moving to the RRP of AU$599. Version Upgrade will be available to eligible customers at the RRP AU$349. Office 2008 for Mac Home and Student Edition is currently available at AU$229 RRP. The free Entourage 2008 for Mac, Web Services Edition, can be downloaded at www.microsoft.com/mac/itpros/entourage-ews.mspx.