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Microsoft Office for Mac and OS X Lion - Not Good Friends

Microsoft announces support on its way for new features in Mac OS X Lion, but it will not arrive anytime soon.

Most developers have had access to the development kit for OS X Lion for some time. Despite this fact, Microsoft has not delivered an update for Office 2011 for Mac that would support some of the most exciting new features in OS X Lion. Auto save, Versions, and Auto resume: these are just a few of the features that Microsoft's ubiquitous office suite does not yet take advantage of in the latest OS from Cupertino.

This creates the possibility that users could potentially come to feel inconvenienced by going back-and-forth between applications that do access these features, and an office suite that does not. If Microsoft does not deliver on these updates within a reasonable amount of time, users may start looking elsewhere for an acceptable alternative. Many companies are strongly considering moving to open source applications such as Open Office, or cloud-centric web-apps such as Google Docs. A delay in the delivery of Microsoft Office compatibility with key productivity enhancements available in Lion could stifle adoption of the suite by Mac users on the new OS.

Throughout the week, Microsoft has been plagued by discoveries of deficiencies in compatibility between Office 2011 for Mac and OS X Lion. In one case, Microsoft Office Communicator was found to cause a crash when users attempted to send messages, or start audio or video communication sessions. Microsoft has already issued an update that addresses this issue. However, it appears that Microsoft is focused on correcting deficiencies like this, and that implementation of new features for Lion is a follow-on task.

Pat Fox, a member of Microsoft's Office for Mac Team, posted to the Office for Mac Team's Blog the following concerning the timeline for implementation of these updated features:

"Finally, the most common question – yes, we are working hard with Apple to enable versioning, auto save, and full-screen for Office for Mac 2011. I know your next question will be “when?”, and unfortunately I can’t answer that – but it’s likely measured in months not days – just to set expectations."



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Jerry Myers, 2011-07-31 (Update: 2012-05-26)