Microsoft releases Office 2011 for Mac Service Pack 1

Microsoft previewed the first service pack for its Office 2011 productivity software last week; on Tuesday, the company officially released the update, which brings several notable improvements to the suite of programs.

Besides overall security and stability improvements, Service Pack 1 (also known as version 14.1.0) also includes the ability to author Alt Text for objects like shapes, pictures, tables, charts, SmartArt, and movies in any of Office 2011’s programs. In addition, Excel 2011 users can now install the Solver analysis tool while PowerPoint users can add password protection to their presentations.

But the meat of the update is undeniably in Outlook 2011. Most significantly, the e-mail, contact, and calendar application has added support for Mac OS X’s Sync Services, meaning you can now sync events, notes, and tasks with other Mac apps. However, Apple has moved away from Sync Services with the introduction of MobileMe’s revamped calendar system, so while you will be able to sync your Outlook calendars with your iOS device via iTunes, you won’t be able to do so over the air via MobileMe.

Outlook has also added support for server-side rules on Microsoft Exchange servers, the ability to resend an e-mail message to the same or new recipients, and the ability to redirect an incoming mail message to other recipients. Creating meeting invitations is now easier as well, thanks to a list of recently used locations.

Office 2011 Service Pack 1 is available via Microsoft’s AutoUpdate software or as a 246MB download from Microsoft’s Office for Mac site.

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