A Happy 20th Birthday to Microsoft Word and Excel for Mac

SAN FRANCISCO, Jan. 7, 2004 — In 1984, Microsoft’s then-CEO Bill Gates was quoted as saying, “the Mac is the only microcomputer beside the IBM PC worth writing software for.”

At the time, Macs were still shiny and new like, well, a freshly picked apple. Holding true to his word, Gates oversaw the development of two little applications called Microsoft Word and Excel, which would eventually become household names.

Twenty years later, Microsoft continues to deliver on Gates’ promise. At Macworld Conference and Expo 2004 in San Francisco this week, Microsoft announced plans to release Office 2004 for Mac and Virtual PC for Mac Version 7 in the first half of 2004. These new releases, and other products Microsoft makes for the Mac, are developed by an oasis of Mac-only developers in an otherwise Windows world at Microsoft: the Macintosh Business Unit (Mac BU). The Mac BU has made its mark in the industry, and at Microsoft, in large part by transforming four applications — Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft PowerPoint and Microsoft Entourage — into the most popular productivity suite for the Mac platform.

Passion for the Word

Macworld magazine Editor in Chief Jason Snell, one of 7 million passionate Office for Mac customers, began using Microsoft Word 3.0 for Mac in 1987 when he wrote for his high school newspaper. Snell immediately liked the program, finding it sophisticated, yet simpler to use than competing word processing applications. Nearly two decades have passed, and Snell is still using Word, specifically Word X, and considers it the standard word processing application for the Mac platform.

“Word is a fantastic program,” says Snell. “My Mac wouldn’t be as impressive without it. The features introduced in Word over the years have absolutely changed the way I work. For example, I used to highlight the changes I made to a document in different colors when editing. When Microsoft introduced Track Changes in Word 98, it changed the way I worked, ultimately helping me work more efficiently.”

Excel by Any other Name

Efficiency took on a different name in 1984 when Microsoft launched two applications, Multiplan and Chart, which would eventually be released as Microsoft Excel in 1985. The program changed the way number crunchers and spreadsheet junkies everywhere organized their information, quickly winning over their hearts and giving their calculators a run for the money. Mac industry mavens paid attention, giving it four awards, including MacUser Editor’s Choice Award and lauding it the Best Overall Program of 1985.

“Mac users have always been innovators. When Microsoft launched Excel the goal was to bring something so advanced for its time to life, and Mac users were so receptive,” says Roz Ho, general manager of Microsoft’s Macintosh Business Unit. “At the time, the team knew they were putting an application out there that would transform how people worked, they just didn’t realize to what magnitude. The graphical interface was so advanced at the time. Microsoft was one of the first companies really playing around with it, and looking back, it seems fitting that we did it on the Mac.”

Walking the Talk

By 1997, Microsoft realized that the best way to continue innovating on the Macintosh platform was to create a unit solely dedicated to the Mac. The decision was driven by the desire to focus specifically and entirely on Mac customers’ needs by creating groundbreaking software that Mac users would want, need and love. As a result, the developers, testers and marketers in this new unit would focus only on the Mac. PCs were off limits.

Simply called the Macintosh Business Unit, the group of 130 Mac users developed Office 98. Launched in 1998, the newest version of Office had a number of features, which specifically took advantage of the Mac OS including Drag and Drop Installation, as well as the first version of Office to support QuickTime movies. To the delight of Mac users everywhere, Office 98 also created files in the same format as Office for Windows, removing the need for file converters and dramatically improving cross-platform compatibility. Mac and Windows users could now play nice, with files freely shared across platforms.

Bridging the Windows Divide

With the launch of Office 98, the ability to seamlessly share files across the Windows and Mac platforms became the obsession of the Mac BU. Cross-platform compatibility is near and dear to Jake Hoelter’s heart, a Mac BU developer, who joined the group shortly after Microsoft acquired Connectix’s virtual machine technology in February 2003. Hoelter has quickly become one of its most passionate supporters. Hoelter recognizes that most of what people do on their computers is rooted in collaboration — whether it’s providing feedback on a document or sharing ideas. And what good is any of it if Mac users can’t share with others? As a Mac user at Microsoft, Hoelter understands what it’s like to be a Mac user living in a predominantly Windows world. Feeling passionate about the problem, Hoelter has played a big role in the development of the next version of Virtual PC for Mac (VPC 7), slated for the first half of 2004.

“I’m excited to be a part of the Mac BU team. The group really gets it –Mac users need products that take full advantage of the Mac OS and also let them work easily with their colleagues, friends, Grandma, you name it, who are on the Windows platform,” says Hoelter. “I’m proud to deliver a product that delivers on the Mac BU’s promise. Mac users are going to love what they see in VPC 7–performance and usability improvements, as well as compatibility with the G5.”

Test and Test Again

Hoelter isn’t alone in his passion for the Mac BU’s products or the division’s promise to Mac customers. Today, the Mac BU is a group of 165 talented technology experts who, like Mac users themselves, are fiercely loyal to the Mac platform, and are passionate about developing quality software for it. The group accomplishes this by running extensive automated and manual testing processes daily — up to one million tests during a product cycle — to ensure that a quality product goes out the door and into the hands of Mac customers. The unit couldn’t do it without the hundreds of Macs all managed by Ed Ferris, who supervises the Mac BU’s test lab, one of the largest Mac-focused test labs outside Apple. Ferris has spent more than a decade at Microsoft focusing on Mac customers and their needs.

“Looking back over my time at One Microsoft Way, I remember helping all types of Mac users over the years, including a U.S. general with his personal calendar and a famous director with a movie script in Word,” says Ferris.

Still Going Strong

Twenty years developing software for the Mac has led to an unprecedented level of quality and performance embodied in the newest versions of Office for Mac and Virtual PC for Mac. During Macworld 2004, Microsoft announced plans to ship Office 2004 and Virtual PC for Mac Version 7.0 in the first half of 2004.

“When I joined Microsoft 13 years ago, I had the opportunity to work on Excel 3.0 and Word 4.0. I’ve seen the evolution of our products first-hand, and Office 2004 is our proudest accomplishment to date,” says Ho. “Looking back over my 13 years developing software for the Mac — and even the past 20 years — it’s amazing to see how much Microsoft has accomplished. We have our faithful, passionate Mac customers to thank for supporting us for all these years.”

Buy Office v. X, Get Office 2004 at No Charge

Those consumers who can’t wait to start using Office for Mac on Mac OS X don’t have to wait. Any customer who acquires Office v. X for Mac from Jan. 6, 2004 until 30 days after the availability of Office 2004 for Mac can obtain the new product at no charge other then shipping and handling. The promotion also provides inexpensive upgrades to the Office 2004 Professional Edition: US$90 estimated reseller price* from Office v. X Standard Edition and US$129 ERP* from Office v. X Student and Teacher Edition (reseller prices may vary). The guarantee is valid throughout the United States and Canada, as well as internationally. Additional details and redemption coupons are available at http://www.microsoft.com/mac/ .

Office 2004 for Mac Product Lineup

There will be three versions of Office 2004 for Mac:

  • Microsoft Office 2004 for Mac Standard Edition. This includes Word 2004, Excel 2004, PowerPoint 2004, Entourage 2004 and MSN®
    Messenger Version 4.0.

  • Microsoft Office 2004 for Mac Student and Teacher Edition. This is the same offering as Standard Edition, but is available for a discounted price for qualified students and teachers.

  • Microsoft Office 2004 for Mac Professional Edition. This is the same offering as Standard Edition, but also includes Microsoft Virtual PC for Mac Version 7 with Windows XP Professional.

All editions of Office 2004 for Mac will be offered in English, with certain editions localized in French, German, Japanese, Spanish and Swedish. For the first time since Office 98, Office for Mac also will be localized in Italian. Users should check with local resellers for more information.

Introducing Virtual PC for Mac Version 7

Mac users who need a bridge to the Windows world can benefit from Microsoft Virtual PC for Mac Version 7. It provides access to Windows-only software, networks, and devices — without users having to leave their Macs. Virtual PC for Mac Version 7 with Windows XP Professional will ship for the first time as part of Office 2004 for Mac Professional Edition and as a stand-alone product in the first half of 2004. Virtual PC 7 will be available with other guest operating systems a few months after this debut. Customers can look forward to key enhancements over the current version 6.1, including performance and usability improvements, as well as compatibility with the Macintosh G5.

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