Microsoft to bring back Visual Basic in Office for Mac

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Microsoft on Tuesday announced it would restore support for Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) to Microsoft Office for Mac, a direct result of complaints from users about the removal of the suite's cross-platform automation functionality.

Microsoft will return VBA to the next full upgrade to the Mac version of Office, the company said. While Office 2008, which was sharply criticized for omitting VBA, will receive bug-fix updates (such as Service Pack 1, also announced Tuesday), it will not be updated to add VBA support.

"We know [VBA] is important to a section of our user base who needs cross platform compatibility," said Kurt Schmucker, Mac Business Unit group product manager and lead evangelist. "And we're bringing that back."

VBA is a programming language used with Microsoft Office applications, making it relatively easy to add automation (macros) and customization (menus, dialogs, and so on) to Office documents.

VBA was part of Office 2004, but Microsoft announced in August 2006 that Office 2008 would not have VBA support. Schmucker explained that VBA on the Mac was "uniquely designed for PPC architecture" and thus difficult to carry over to the Intel-native Office 2008. Diverting resources to do so, he said, would have required delaying Office's 2008 release even longer, or significantly cutting back on the product's features. Microsoft has since added resources to work on getting VBA support ready for the next major version of Office for Mac.

Schmucker said that VBA support will have at least the same functionality of Office 2004, and probably some additional features from the Windows version of Office.

Although Microsoft offered no specific date when users could expect the next version of Office for Mac, the company said the product is typically revised every two to three years. Office 2008 was released on January 15, 2008, a little more than three-and-a-half years after the May 2004 release of Office 2004.

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