In an announcement that many Mac owners have been waiting for, Microsoft told the world on Tuesday that its Office for Mac 2008 has officially gone gold and will ship next month.

According to Microsoft, it will release the first major Mac upgrade to Office in a decade at Macworld Expo on 15 January. It will come in three distinct editions: Office 2008 for Mac Home and Student Edition, Office 2008 for Mac and Office 2008 for Mac Special Media Edition.

Wide range of prices

Office 2008 for Mac Home and Student Edition will retail for $150 (£72) and will come with new versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Entourage. It'll allow users to install those applications on up to three computers.

Office 2008 for Mac will include the same programs, but will add connectivity to Microsoft Exchange Server and support for automated workflows. It'll set you back $400 (£192).

Finally, Office 2008 for Mac Special Media Edition will be aimed at professional users who want the same features of the standard edition, but with Microsoft's new image management software, Expression Media. Its selling price is $500 (£240).

Get Vista Ultimate for free

Does that sound too good to be true? Microsoft says it will give you a free copy of Windows Vista Ultimate, Office Ultimate 2007, Money Plus Premium, Encarta Premium or Microsoft Streets and Trips if you fill out a few surveys and allow the company to track how you use Windows and Office.

Aside from the surveys, the Windows automated feedback program will collect data on your usage and hardware for three months as a part of its Windows Feedback Program. You can sign up now for free as long as you currently use Windows XP or Vista.

In other news...

Omaura unveiled a concept design on Tuesday that it says is far more practical as a desktop home theatre PC solution than what is currently employed in most homes.

Dubbed the TT, Omaura's system sports an almost entirely vertical design that disguise its use as a computer, yet also allows enough room for the full-size desktop video cards and storage needed in a fully functional PVR.