Microsoft Office for Mac 2008 sneak peek

The Microsoft Office for Mac 2008 website details all the new features found in the four Office applications - Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Entourage

With 20 per cent of sales of boxed copies of Office going to Mac users, it's perhaps timely that Microsoft has now chosen to reveal more plans for the Mac version, available next January.

While Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Entourage (the Mac version of Outlook) are all present, one thing is obviously missing - the Ribbon contextual menu feature found in the Microsoft Office 2007 for PC.

The Mac Business Unit (MBU) at Microsoft says it deliberately hasn't forced Ribbon into the Mac version because it wanted to keep some of its unique usability features of the Mac version, such as the Formatting Palette.

Ribbon vs Mac

"The Mac UI one of the strengths of the platform: once you learn how to do something in one application, you can be reasonably assured that this lesson will apply to other applications too. Mac users expect a menu bar at the top of their screen with an Apple menu, an app menu, then File and all the rest of them, finishing up with the Help menu," it says on the MBU office blog.

"We could have just left the Apple and app menu in place, and ignored the rest of it. Not only is this a waste of screen real estate, it breaks the user's mental model. But the Ribbon does some great things, and we want to capitalise on their innovation while still ensuring that we keep a Mac-like experience.

The result is unique combination of Mac UI features with the Ribbon to produce something the MBU calls the Elements Gallery. You can see how it and other new features work at the new Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac website.