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Microsoft launches Office 2011

On Tuesday, Microsoft announced the official release of Office 2011 for Mac, the latest incarnation of its popular office suite.

The widely anticipated release includes a completely reworked user interface, based on the ribbon menus that were first featured in the 2007 edition of Office for Windows; it also adds several new features, including support for document co-authoring and the inclusion of a Mac version of the Outlook mail and calendaring program, which replaces the Entourage application that shipped with previous versions of the suite.

Additionally, the new Office brings back an old favorite: macros, which can once again be written and run using Microsoft’s Visual Basic for Applications language. Macros are popular with power users, who take advantage of them to automate complex tasks.

Office 2011 comes in three different versions: Home and Student, which includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Messenger and costs $120 (or $150 for a family pack with three licenses). The base package doesn’t include Outlook, which is only available with the Home and Business edition, which retails for $200 (with a “multi-pack” of two licenses available for $280), or with the Academic edition, which costs $100.

It’s also worth noting that the licensing terms of the suite have changed significantly from its predecessor—a move that has caused some controversy with owners of multiple Macs. The new Microsoft Office is available at a number of retailers including Best Buy, Amazon.com, Apple, and Microsoft’s own site.

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