Mac Office 2008 Hits Private Beta

According to apcmag.com, Microsoft's Office 2008 for Mac has proceeded into private beta stages of development (note: mirror may be slow).

"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.

Microsoft announced Office 2008 for Mac at Macworld San Francisco in January, and previewed an alpha release which included features from Office 2007 for Windows such as the Ribbon, and new Mac-only features such as a Publishing Layout View that will allow Word users to create layout-rich documents (newsletters, fliers, and brochures), Ledger Sheets in Excel, and "My Day" priority tracking in Entourage.

"Part of our mission with Office 2008 is to expose all the things that are already there and make the product easier to use" says Jones. "We wanted to make it more discoverable, to bubble up the features that people didn't always find. We also have an opportunity to have a simple UI and a more intuitive interface.

"We got a lot of customer feedback (on the UI), we've kept the menus and embedded toolbars, but I can hide rid of embedded toolbars to have a really streamlined interface."

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.

Microsoft has stated that Office 2008 will be a Universal Binary, and will bring compatibility with Office 2007 for Windows' Open XML file format. To the dismay of many corporate and cross-platform users, however, Microsoft has said that it will not be supporting Visual Basic scripting.

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