NEW YORK, July 19, 2000 — Microsoft today unveiled Office 2001 for Mac, a suite of programs that will give Mac aficionados new and better ways to increase their productivity by using Office.
Released publicly at MacWorld Expo New York, Office 2001 represents another milestone in Microsoft’s long history of developing software for the Macintosh operating system.
“The most important thing about the product is that it’s designed to fulfill the everyday needs of Macintosh users, with Mac-first features and unsurpassed compatibility,”
said Irving Kwong, product manager in the Microsoft Macintosh Business Unit.
“In a Windows world, the burden is on Macintosh users to stay compatible. Office 2001 shares the same file format as Office for Windows, so sharing files with Windows users is seamless.”
To better understand Office 2001 and its significance for Macintosh users, PressPass spoke with Kwong.
PressPass: What are the major improvements to Office 2001 for Mac over previous versions?
Kwong: The very first thing people will notice is that we’ve introduced a brand new application, Entourage 2001. With Entourage, for the first time customers of Mac Office will have an integrated personal information manager that can take information stored in Entourage 2001, like an address book, and use it in applications like Word.
Entourage includes Flag for Follow-up, a brand-new feature that allows users to flag a document they’re working on in Office and set automated reminders to come back to it at a later time. This is leveraging the calendar to allow people to manage their time as well as their projects. Mac users will be able to organize their lives, their schedules, their tasks — everything they do — with this one integrated suite of applications.
PressPass: Can you talk about some of the Mac-first features? What are these features, and why did you include them?
Kwong: Unlike many companies that develop cross-platform applications, we don’t give our Mac customers a subset of the features that are in our Windows product. We design Mac-specific features that you won’t find anywhere else, regardless of platform.
What this really boils down to is our product strategy — innovating on the Mac platform. With Office 2001, we’re introducing a number of Mac-first, Mac-only innovations that are designed to make it truly easier for Mac users to start and complete projects. These include List Manager; Flag for Follow-up; the Project Gallery; Word-like editing tools while composing e-mail; and the Data Merge Manager, a simplified process for merging data between applications.
PressPass: What are some of the new integration features of Office 2001 for Mac and how will they simplify the everyday tasks of users?
Kwong: Customers, from the individual user at home all the way to a professional in a large corporation, will find that these features will make their lives a lot easier while increasing their productivity.
Within the Office Suite, Entourage integrates with all of the traditional Office applications, such as Microsoft Excel, Word and PowerPoint. Popular Mac programs like the database tool Filemaker Pro will integrate easily with Office 2001.
In addition, because Entourage 2001 has a calendar to keep your schedule, that becomes the timekeeper for any Office application.
Another example is the integration between the Entourage address book and Word 2001. Through the Contacts Toolbar feature, people will be able to access contact information of people stored in their address book, so it’s easy to add names and addresses and phone numbers to things like letters, templates and wizards.
PressPass: What is the new packaging Microsoft is announcing for Office 2001 for Mac, and why did Microsoft decide to repackage the product?
Kwong: Microsoft is launching a new marketing identity, advertising campaign and revolutionary new packaging for its Mac products. This new identity is created specifically for Macintosh customers, to help distinguish Microsoft’s Mac products. So instead of a standard software box, Office 2001 is being shipped in a plastic reusable CD case that is designed to be as stylish as the Macintosh.
Having recyclable packaging is a good idea environmentally, and we also wanted to give our Mac customers something unique. Macintosh users are creative. They really, really value style. A good example is the popularity of the new Mac computers. They look nice, and make users feel good. So will our new CD case for Office 2001.
PressPass: How many people within Microsoft’s Macintosh Business Unit have been working on this product? Did you design it from the ground up?
Kwong: We have been working on it for the past 2-1/2 years. The team is about 200 people. This is a very significant release for us. We think it’s going to be even more compelling a release than Office 98 Macintosh Edition.
We build our applications using Mac tools, and all the developers here eat and breathe the Macintosh. So it is truly a great Macintosh application; it’s not a port from Windows. The user interface is very elegant. It’s exactly what a Mac user would expect, which is very important.
PressPass: What were the steps involved? How much did customer feedback play into the development of Office 2001 for Mac?
Kwong: While we were still developing Office 98 for Mac, a team of researchers was already planning the blueprints for Office 2001 by doing a lot of customer research as well as site visits. We watched real-world people use their Macintosh computers. We’ve even conducted studies where we’ve collected users’ documents and spreadsheets to see the type of documents they were creating and features they were using.
PressPass: When will Office 2001 for Mac be released to the public?
Kwong: It will be publicly unveiled at MacWorld Expo New York. Customers will see Office 2001 for Mac on the shelves in October in the United States. Other languages and countries will come thereafter.
PressPass: Will Office 2001 for Mac help the work with information already stored in other applications?
Kwong: A very good example of this is the way the Office 2001 for Mac will work with Filemaker Pro, the most widely used database tool for Mac users. If you have a Filemaker database that has your customer history in it, you could import this data quickly into Microsoft Excel and use all the charting and analysis tools in Excel to look at the data — without having to do any data entry at all. Or you could use this feature to calculate things like standard deviation, which is of interest to scientists.
This is made possible by the Filemaker Pro Import Wizard. You just drag a Filemaker file icon to the proper place, and it is converted into an Excel workbook. The wizard walks you through how much of the information you actually want to import.
PressPass: Will the user have to launch special software to take advantage of this feature?
Kwong: No, everything’s built right into Office 2001 for Mac.
PressPass: How will the new List Manager feature work for a typical Mac user?
Kwong: The List Manager makes it easier and simpler to maintain the kinds of lists that people use every day. Our research showed that more than 60 percent of the user spreadsheets we collected contained simple lists — mailing lists, CD collections, grocery lists — yet Excel didn’t provide the right set of features for managing these kinds of lists.
The new List Manager feature intuitively watches you work, and will offer to turn it into what we call a List Object. It doesn’t treat the entries as individual cells anymore, but as rows of data. That’s simpler, because now you’ll be able to do things like filter and sort your lists without corrupting your data. In addition, you can easily insert new rows without messing up your data.
We also provide the Mac user with a set of list tools created specifically for managing a list. For instance, often lists go over more than one page, so we introduced something called “Persistent Headers.” As you scroll, it keeps the column headers at the top of the page, and it will automatically print the headers at the top of each page.
PressPass: Over the course of the day, a business user will accumulate a lot of different tidbits of digital information — email, Word files, graphics — related to an ongoing project. How does Office 2001 for Mac make it easier to keep track of these?
Kwong: The new Links feature in Entourage 2001 helps people link files inside Office to things like an event on your calendar, an email or even a contact in your address book.
It’s very simple, because by simply dragging and dropping these files, you can link them together. In addition, you can add an automated reminder to notify you when you should go ahead and complete this task, with all these different linked files. When a file is linked, it has a little graphical icon attached to it to remind you.
PressPass: What if the user needs to create a graphics-intensive report or slide presentation, but has never done one previously?
Kwong: People told us that the hardest part about doing projects was getting started. So we’re going to help them do that, with a new feature called the Project Gallery. It’s really the starting point in every Office application.
So if you need to create a slide show, automatically when you open up that template it will open up PowerPoint for you — even if you don’t know that’s the program you need. We have brand-new templates, over 400 of them, available from the Project Gallery, where you can do things like create an invoice, a catalog or a newsletter.
You also can take a presentation and save it as a PowerPoint movie, and you can then share it with other people as a movie. So it’s platform-agnostic.
PressPass: What if an office needs to mail notices of an upcoming event to customers, which requires using the mail merge feature? How would Office 2001 for Mac help accomplish that goal?
Kwong: This is another illustration of how Office 2001 for Mac simplifies tasks. We totally rethought that entire process. We’ve created the Data Merge Manager, which in a common scenario can take about 10 mouse clicks, compared to 50 clicks for the old mail-merge system. It’s much less cumbersome.
But the Data Merge Manager is more than that. If you’re in Word and you create a letter to people, with the Data Merge Manager you can go ahead and apply the mailing list you have stored in Excel, Filemaker Pro or Entourage. And you’ll be able to see a preview of each one of the letters before completing your data merge. So you don’t end up with it all wrong.
PressPass: Does Office 2001 for Mac make new editing features available while a user is composing email?
Kwong: Our research told us that people wanted to have the same on-screen behavior and powerful editing tools as Word when composing their email. You’re doing the same type of task, yet the behaviors and editing tools of email applications and Microsoft Word have been different.
With Entourage 2001, that problem is solved. Users will have on-the-fly spell checking and auto-corrections while composing their email. Furthermore, the Encarta World English Dictionary is accessible from every Office 2001 application. If someone sends you a message with an unfamiliar word, you just click on the
button in the contextual menus, and the definition will pop up on your screen.
PressPass: How does Office 2001 for Mac manage a user’s accumulated email so it can be used as a resource?
Kwong: People today get a lot of email, and it’s hard to stay on top of it. It’s also very difficult to find information if you have a lot of email. So, first, we have the Flag for Follow-up feature. You can just click a button to put a message flag next to the email and set an automated reminder for yourself to get back to it.
The Custom View feature in Office 2001 allows you to see the right set of information easily — such as all messages today, just messages with a flag by them, or only messages from a specific person or on a specific subject. It will show you contact information if you have that in your address book. It also will show if you have them on your task list. It cuts across all the applications.
PressPass: How does the release of Office 2001 for Mac fit in with Microsoft’s overall commitment to the Mac community?
Kwong: We’ve been developing software for the Macintosh since 1983, and not only have we been doing it from the beginning, we also actually have been doing more than anyone else. Microsoft has been committed to the platform and its customers, and we’ve provided leadership in developing new products and applications on the Macintosh.
But, just as important as the specific new features in Office 2001 for Mac, we never sacrifice the goal of compatibility. Compatibility is critical to a Macintosh user. We never add a feature that would break compatibility.
In every Office 2001 for Mac application, when you go to
there’s a box at the very bottom that asks you to apply a file extension, so you can make a Windows file out of it to share it with a Windows user. Automatically, you can add the .doc extension to your file before sending it to a Windows user.
Similarly, we support a lot of different technologies in Office 2001 for Mac, such as QuickTime, Color Sync, drag-and-drop. These are the kinds of things that Mac users expect, while on Windows those things either don’t exist or are different. So the things that Apple introduced we support natively within our suite, making for a seamless integration.