Microsoft gives status update on Office

Microsoft’s Macintosh Business Unit on Tuesday released a new Word converter for Office 2004 for Mac giving it access to the company’s new Office Open XML file format. Microsoft also gave a status update on the upcoming release of Office for Mac.

“We are continuing to work hard on Office 2008,” Amanda Lefebvre, marketing manager for the Mac BU, told Macworld. We are still right on track to release the product in second half of 2007.”

Converting one of the largest applications to the Intel platform does not seem to be putting too much of a dent in Microsoft’s plans for an Office release this year — Lefebvre said they have kept to the schedule so far.

When released, Office 2008 for Mac will share the Office Open XML file format with its Windows counterpart. Microsoft has released a converter allowing users of Office 2004 to open those documents and save the content to a compatible file format.

The converter provides read only access to the new format, which means that users will have to manually save the content of the file once its open. The final tool, according to Microsoft, will be read and write, eliminating the manually tasks. The final version of the converter will be released six to eight weeks after Office 2008.

For now Microsoft is providing a Word Converter, but will release Excel and PowerPoint converters this summer—no specific date was given for the release.

The Word converter can be downloaded from Microsoft’s Web site.

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