Office 2010 To Breach Windows-Mac Divide

Dennis Faas's picture

Microsoft has announced it plans to make the PC and Mac editions of Office 2011 as compatible as possible.

According to Kurt Schmucker, one of the leading figures in Microsoft's Mac division, the goal is simple: you should be able to print out the same document in Office on both systems, put one sheet on top of the other, hold them up to the light, and not spot even the slightest difference.

Mac Excel Gets Sparkling Makeover

One example of this is a new Excel feature named Sparklines. This is designed to allow users to automatically produce small graphs and charts that appear beside the relevant data, allowing people looking at a document to get an overall picture of the data rather than having to pore through the individual numbers. (Source:

The feature is included in Office 2010 for Windows, and Microsoft now says it will be in Office 2011 on the Mac meaning "Sparklines" -- created on a PC -- will be viewable on a Mac, and vice versa. Microsoft believes this is the type of feature that previously it might have considered expendable in the process of making Office compatible for the Mac.

There will also be several other features from the PC edition showing up on the Mac: Outlook will be there (having been missing from recent Mac editions), there will be basic tools for editing photos within a document rather than having to use an external application, and the ribbon-style toolbar will make its Mac Office debut. (Source:

Microsoft Still Trying To Deter Mac Purchases

Interestingly, Mac / Office compatibility reports come shortly after Microsoft launched a site comparing Macs unfavorably with PCs, citing software incompatibility as a reason existing PC users should think twice about jumping ship.

Still, marketing feuds aside, greater compatibility makes smart business sense for Microsoft. Clearly, it gives the company a much better chance of selling Office to Mac users, particularly those who are used to the PC and want something as familiar as possible.

But just as importantly it makes the PC edition more attractive to Windows business users. That won't necessarily boost sales, but may make existing users feel more comfortable using Microsoft products.

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