Apple exec: Office X shows benefits of Mac platform

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With the release of Office v. X earlier this week, Mac OS X has reached another milestone. Being one of the most anticipated applications -- the biggest to reach the new operating system to date -- the release of Office validates the platform to many in the business world.

Apple said when Mac OS X 10.1 was released, that the operating system was ready for primetime. While that may be true, businesses cannot use OS X on its own -- applications that are compatible with other platforms have to be a part of the stable of applications that Mac users have in their arsenal.

Office v. X gives the Mac more compatibility with its Windows cousins than ever before. Office X users can share files freely with users of Office 2001 for Mac and Office 98 Macintosh Edition. Office X shares the same filing format as Office XP, Office 2000 and Office 97 for Windows. It's also compatible with FileMaker Pro 5.5 and AppleWorks 6.0. That is going to be important if companies are going to adopt the Mac platform in the business market. With applications like Office on store shelves, people may stop and take a second look at a Mac running Office on OS X.

"I think people are absolutely going to look at the Mac in a new light," Ken Bereskin, Director of Mac OS Product Marketing at Apple, told MacCentral. "With all of the great capabilities that Mac OS X has and now that Office is available natively, it will remind people of a couple of key points. 1. The Mac is a great alternative to other operating systems because it is fully compatible, it works on the networks, and with Office, you are able to seamlessly exchange documents from a Windows user to a Mac user. 2. The benefits of Mac OS X will allow people that are looking to upgrade their hardware to consider a Mac."

Microsoft also spent a lot of time working on Office to make sure they took advantage of as many of the technologies in OS X as possible. Rather than just porting Office to Mac OS X, all four applications in the suite have been completely redone, with 25 million lines of code, 50 shared libraries, 8,257 files, 800 dialog boxes and 700 new Aqua toolboxes have been added to the product -- all Carbonized. Office v. X runs natively on OS X -- it will not run under OS 9.

"With Office, we are now seeing again how the Aqua user interface was able to inspire Microsoft to build an amazingly powerful version of Office, yet keeping it simple to use and it takes advantage of Aqua to make it real for customers," said Bereskin.

Apple feels they are back on track with OS X, giving developers access to new technologies and innovative design. "It is so rewarding to see that innovations in the operating system are inspiring application developers again," said Bereskin. "It used to be the norm many years ago that Apple would come out with an innovative technology or great new user interface breakthrough -- I think we've lost that over the last couple of years."

Office v. X isn't the only Carbonized application suite available for Mac OS X -- Apple's own AppleWorks is also available. AppleWorks doesn't offer the same breadth of features found in Office, but it has been a staple for many Mac users' over the years.

Bereskin says that promoting the two products doesn't cause any conflict because they are targeted towards different markets. "The products are aimed at very different groups of people," said Bereskin. "AppleWorks is very popular with our education customers, particularly those in K-12. It has a feature set that is designed for those users and a price point as well, while Office is a very powerful solution with broad appeal. I think the different customer segments allow them to coexist."

Apple currently boasts over 1800 applications designed specifically for Mac OS X. More and more developers are taking advantage of the core technologies of Mac OS X and Apple thinks that's what the customers are looking for in an application that is built for Mac OS X.

"I certainly expect that the most successful applications -- the ones customers will be most excited about and most interested in purchasing will be those that take full advantage of the power of Mac OS X," said Bereskin.

This story, "Apple exec: Office X shows benefits of Mac platform" was originally published by PCWorld.

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