Office 2008 for Mac hits beta: ‘Escher’ graphics engine revealed

Apple Store“Office 2008 for Mac has gingerly stepped out of the alpha phase of its development as Microsoft works towards a late 2007 release of its overhauled Macintosh suite.
‘We’re in private betas right now’ confirmed Sheridan Jones, Lead Marketing Manager for Microsoft’s Mac Business Unit (MacBU), during an exclusive interview with APC magazine.
While Jones was unable to speculate on the timetable for any public beta or the targets for RTM (release to manufacture), a demo of an alpha build showed the revised user interface is moving in a very appealing and Mac-like direction,” David Flynn reports for APC Magazine.

Flynn reports, “Our peek at the alpha build, which Jones cautioned was still in the very earliest of stages of both the UI and backend development, showed hints of a streamlined look with a modern black sheen, at times similar to the elements in recent Apple applications such as iTunes 7 and iLife 06. Rest easy, Mac-fans — this is not Office for Windows.”

“Parts of the redesign are peeking through almost every application, as well as application modules such as the notebook view in Word, and Jones promises that there’s plenty to share in the months ahead.” Flynn reports.

“While there’s no Office 2007 ribbon in sight, one inheritance from its Windows counterpart is the ‘Escher’ graphics engine which is responsible for Office 2007’s dramatically improved art and charting capabilities,” Flynn reports. “All of the Office 2008 for Mac applications, most noticeably Word and PowerPoint, can conjure graphics with elegant visuals such as 3D effects, mirroring, glass effects, glows and shadows.”

Full article with screenshots here.

MacDailyNews Take: Thrilling. Hey, have you seen? NeoOffice 2.1 is out! NeoOffice (screenshot) is a fully-featured set of office applications (including word processing, spreadsheet, presentation, and drawing programs) for Mac OS X. Based on the office suite, NeoOffice has integrated dozens of native Mac features and can import, edit, and exchange files with other office programs such as Microsoft Office. Released as free, open source software under the GNU General Public License (GPL), NeoOffice is fully functional and ready for everyday use. The software is actively developed, so improvements and small updates are made available on a regular basis. More info and download link:

Related articles:
Microsoft warns of Office flaw; Office 2004 for Mac potentially vulnerable – February 05, 2007
‘docXConverter’ converts Microsoft Office 2007 ‘docx’ files – December 21, 2006
Beginning of the end for Office for Mac? Microsoft drops Visual Basic support in Mac version – December 09, 2006
Microsoft’s Office 2007 for Windows saves documents in Mac-incompatible format – December 05, 2006
All-new user interface coming for Office 2007 for Mac – September 18, 2006
Mac users should not buy Microsoft software (or hardware) – May 16, 2003


  1. Better do something sooner than that. Keynote makes Powerpoint look like a child’s toy. My presentation’s put everyone else’s to shame. Excel has it’s moments but there are alternatives and what about Word? We’ll, it’s better on the Mac then that PC already but how many ways do you need to type a document. If you want quick, fantastic layout with text, charts and graphics then Pages make’s you look like a hero.
    Honestly, I like Office for the Mac but if MS thinks they are going to hold Office hostage like they have done in the past, then they are truly delusional.

  2. Yeah. Tell me about it.
    Feces it certainly will be.

    Bloatware for fools.

    Just this week I played properly with Pages and it’s so refreshingly easy to work with. Incredibly intuitive and surprisingly powerful. I say surprisingly because it appears to be very minimalistic at first until you really play with it. Makes Word look stupidly overbloates and poorly implemented.

    MDN word: social.

    As “I wonder how many MS employees will be drawing social security benefits in a few months time”

  3. Keyman,
    So right you are. When I give lectures for the residents and medical students, I invariably hear “holy shit!” from somewhere in the audience near the beginning. Last year, I actually had an audience break out into spontaneous applause with the transition from my first slide to the second one (the cube effect). I realized these PowerPoint-fed masses were hungry for real graphics and replied, “don’t worry – it’s a Mac”, to great laughter.

    Although, I wish Keynote would provide support for glows and glass effects.

  4. Thanks for the heads-up about Neo-Office. I’ll give it a try at home. I’ve already begun to switch over to OpenOffice here at work (PCs, unfortunately). My boss doesn’t even realize I’m switching. I figure at some point they might notice, but I doubt it. If I can get others around here to switch, when they come up to us and ask us to switch to Vista and the God-Awful Office 2007 from Microsoft, we can say ‘no thanks.’

    That’s my hope, at least.

  5. RE: MDN Take

    Do you guys never do any real work? It’s sad but true that Excel (yes, originally a Mac only product) is the best spreadsheet program out there. It’s the only one you can use to do any real work or analysis with, don’t make me laugh by pathetically pointing to inferior products.

    Like it or not, hate Microsoft or not, Office for Mac is a very important suite.

    I am hoping that Excel 2008 for Mac supports multi-core like Excel 2007 for Windows does; that’s a killer feature.

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