Microsoft's Mac group has said it will be launching its long-awaited Office 2008 package in the new year. But the cheapest full version of the package will clock in at over £200, according to the US pricing. And that's a problem for Microsoft - now that the £55 iWork package has become a serious contender for Mac users.

The announcement was made at MacExpo in Paris. The flagship product, Office 2008 for Mac, is the core suite that includes Word 2008, Excel 2008, PowerPoint 2008 and Entourage 2008. In case you didn't know, Entourage is a redesigned Outlook for the Mac.

Microsoft Exchange support

There's also the Office 2008 for Mac Special Media Edition, which features the Office 2008 applications together with the Microsoft Expression Media digital asset management system. This is the one for those who need Microsoft Exchange support.

Of course, Microsoft knows that many Mac-using workers will need to have Office to work alongside their PC-using counterparts. "We built Office 2008 with the unifying goal of making it easier for Mac users to access the tools they need to get the job done [and] share between Macs and PCs," said Craig Eisler, general manager of the 180-strong Mac Business Unit at Microsoft.

"And, of course, Office 2008 for Mac will provide the document fidelity with the 2007 Microsoft Office system that our users need to stay connected with their friends and co-workers."

All versions of the new suite support Microsoft's new Open XML file format. Microsoft says the suite will be available from 15 January in the US, with other territories following subsequently.

US pricing is as follows:

  • Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac, $399.95 (£198) for the full retail version; $239.95 (£119) for the upgrade version
  • Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac Home and Student Edition, $149.95 (£74) for the full retail version
  • Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac Special Media Edition, $499.95 (US) for the full retail version; $299.95 (£149) for the upgrade version