On Tuesday, Microsoft held the first public demonstration of its upcoming Office 98 Macintosh Edition, while outlining the product roadmap as well. Due by the end of the year, Office 98 for the Mac will include Word98, Excel98, PowerPoint98, Outlook Express, and Internet Explorer 4.0. Notably absent from this list are Access and Outlook. Microsoft contends that the markets Apple targets--education and the creative professional--are not high-end database users. Also, Outlook97 is geared largely toward the corporate drone with a need for scheduling and mail capabilities, another unneeded feature for most Macintosh customers.

The Macintosh version of Office doesn't even require a setup program: You simply drag the Office folder from the installation CD-ROM onto your Mac hard drive icon and the program installs itself. A similar type of setup is expected in the next version of Office for Windows, due in late 1998.

Macintosh users began resenting Microsoft Office with the previous release, which forced users to use a Windows-like user interface. The product was also bloated and slow, a feature Windows users have come to accept with resignation. Microsoft did a survey of Mac users to determine what they wanted from this version of Office and got the following top responses:

  • It must integrates well with other Mac applications and the system.
  • Users should be able to intuitively figure out how to perform the    job they want to do.
  • Dialog boxes and interface controls look and behave like those of    other Mac apps, not like Windows apps.
  • The installation should be easy and flexible.
"We're not taking a lowest common denominator approach. We're taking what users need and optimizing it for the Mac platform," said Matthew Price, a group product manager for Microsoft Office Macintosh Edition.

Also present in Mac Office98 is a feature Microsoft is promising for Windows 98 and future versions of Office for Windows: self repair. If the user inadvertently deletes crucial system files, the program will reinstall those missing components from CD-ROM automatically. The Mac Office file formats are also completely compatible with Office97 for Windows files