'Why should I upgrade to Office 2008 for Macintosh?'
Author Jim Elferdink talks about what’s new in Office 2008 for Macintosh. If you’re still using Office 2004, you’ll find some great reasons to upgrade. Jim also fills you in on some cool features that Office for Windows can’t match, and why you may not need to invest in iWork!
What are the best new features that will make folks want to upgrade to Office 2008?
Publishing Layout view. If you use Word to create formatted documents like letters and brochures, you’ll find it so much easier to do now in the new Publishing Layout view than in the old Page Layout view. Publishing Layout view is actually quite similar to Pages; both are very usable. It’s a huge boon for Word people—if you haven’t bought Pages, now you won’t have to!
MyDay. I really enjoy Entourage’s MyDay feature. Assuming you’re not working on a laptop that doesn’t have screen space to spare, I recommend keeping MyDay open in the corner of your screen. That’s what I do! It helps me keep track of my appointments and schedule. If you’ve got appointments every 20 minutes or just a lot going on in your day, it’s great to have it all at a glance. It also helps you remember to go pick up the kids. (And you can feel superior to your Windows friends. There’s nothing resembling MyDay in Office for Windows.)
Project Center. Entourage’s Project Center has been streamlined and beautified for 2008, but it’s still very underutilized. It takes a little extra effort to learn, but once you’ve got it up and running, if you’re doing any kind of a project that involves Office documents or even files from other programs, it’s a great timesaver. It lets you keep shortcuts to all these documents, plus email related to the project, in one window. The Project Center makes it easy to categorize email, contacts, notes, and documents. Things don’t get lost, and you don’t have to worry about Mac OS X labels and other ways to categorize things. (Office for Windows also has nothing like the Project Center.)
Formula Builder. In Excel, one of the greatest new features is the formula builder. If you use Excel for formulas much at all, especially more complicated ones, it’s really a timesaver. It helps you get those things created and working much faster than you could do before.
Elements Gallery. The Elements Gallery concept is really great because it carries over from one program to the other, gives the programs a consistent feel. If you’re using a lot of templates or AutoShapes, you’ll find it a quick way to get at all that stuff. You could do all these things before, but it was a lot harder to find what you were looking for.
So, are there any disadvantages to upgrading to Office 2008?
Publishing Layout view can be frustratingly slow on G4 Macs, especially when you’re trying to move layout elements around onscreen. I would only use it on an Intel Mac. The same caveat holds true for PowerPoint; it’s hard to move things around. But the rest of the suite works great on faster G4 machines.
Office 2008 uses the same new, XML-based file format as Office 2007 for Windows. It’s great not to have to worry when someone with Office 2007 on a PC sends you something. Office 2008 can open those documents right up. But now when you send documents to Mac folks who haven’t upgraded, they won’t be able to open them! Once you upgrade to Office 2008, you’ve got to be aware that not everyone else has, and (unless you have a real need to use the XML format) set your Save options (in Preferences) to the older format so there won’t be problems with your attachments.
Then there’s the macro problem. Any macros you wrote in earlier versions of Office use the Visual Basic programming language (VBA), and they won’t work in Office 2008! If you’ve written a lot of macros for yourself, you’ll have to stick with Office 2004 until you have time to rewrite them in AppleScript.
What do you like best about Office 2008 for Macintosh: The Missing Manual?
I’m happy with the way this book turned out. I think it covers everything you need to use this really powerful suite of programs for all your work. One chapter I’m particularly fond of, and which I think is missing from every other PowerPoint book I’ve looked at, is Chapter 15—Planning Great Presentations. It helps you prepare for your presentation and shows you how to use PowerPoint for its true purpose. PowerPoint isn’t doing the presentation—you are. You’re the star of the show! Unfortunately, too many people think it’s the other way around.