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YES, new Office for OS X is COMING, says German Microsoft bod

Updated Mac productivity suite planned for this year

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A Microsoft manager has said that Redmond plans to release a new version of Office for Mac this year, giving new hope to Apple loyalists stuck using the aging OS X version of Microsoft Office.

In a brief interview with German tech pub Computerwoche at the CeBIT conference in Hanover, Germany, Microsoft's new German Office boss Thorsten Hübschen said to expect a new OS X productivity suite by the end of 2014, although he had few details to share.

Mac versions of Office have typically lagged behind their Windows counterparts. Office 2007 for Windows was followed by Office:mac 2008 the following year, and Office 2010 for Windows was trailed by Office:mac 2011, which remains the most recent version for Apple's platform.

That version was actually released back in October 2010, however, and its feature set lags behind that of Office 2010 on Windows, yet alone Office 2013. Office:mac 2011 can't handle OpenDocument Format files, for example, or right-to-left languages such as Arabic or Hebrew, and its version of Outlook doesn't work as well as the Windows version. There is also no 64-bit version of Office for OS X.

The feature disparity between the Windows and OS X versions of Office has been particularly frustrating for Office 365 subscribers. Many signed up for the cloud-hosted service with the understanding that it was a cross-platform offering, only to be dismayed to learn that their Mac users would be stuck with the same, dusty old version of Office they'd had for years.

It is a shame, because with Office 2013, Microsoft has actually taken significant steps to make the suite more OS-agnostic. Developers are now encouraged to write Office add-ons using JavaScript and other web standards, for example, rather than Redmond's proprietary ActiveX and Visual Basic technologies, support for which has been poor or nonexistent in Office:mac.

In fact, Hübschen said, an OS X version of Office 2013 was planned, but personnel reshuffling within Microsoft's Macintosh Business Unit caused it to be delayed.

Hübschen gave no hint as to what the next OS X version of Office will now be called – although we reckon Office:mac 2014 wouldn't be an unreasonable guess – but he said that Microsoft has already approached several large customers to get feedback on the new software.

As for when the general public will get more concrete information about the forthcoming release, Hübschen said to expect Microsoft to open up about its plans beginning in the second quarter of 2014. ®

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