Microsoft’s Macintosh Business Unit (MacBU) is showing off “Office 10 for Mac OS X” at this week’s Macworld New York. Developed exclusively for Apple’s new operating system, Office 10, due this fall, takes full advantage of Aqua, Carbon Events, Sheets and Quartz, while offering new features, Kevin Browne, general manager of the MacBU, said in a special MWNY presentation.
Office 10 incorporates Mac OS X’s Aqua user interface into its components. Browne said that over 800 dialog boxes, toolbar icons and alerts in Office 10 have been changed to match the liquid user interface. There are over 700 new Aquified icons. All have been carefully designed to make sure that they’re “exactly right,” Browne said. What’s more, subtle user interface improvements have been made in each application, he added.
“Office 10 takes full advantage of the Aqua interface,” Browne said. “The effect is that all the toolbars, icons, and dialog boxes are smooth with no jagged edges. Office 10’s components are warmer and more inviting and easier to look at for hours at a time.”
Office 10 is Carbonized to take advantage of Mac OS X’s modern system architecture. First, because the Carbon Events framework is incorporated into Office 10, users get maximum responsiveness out of their Office applications and a longer battery life when running on a laptop, Browne said. By incorporating Carbon Events, the MacBU was able to add another key Mac OS X feature, called Sheets, which replaces select alerts and dialog boxes. Since a Sheet only immediately affects the document in which it appears, users can open other documents within the application and continue working on other projects, even if the Sheet hasn’t been dealt with.
In developing Office 10, Microsoft has also worked closely with Apple to incorporate the Quartz Drawing Layer into its code, Browne said. Through Quartz, the great tools shared by all Office applications give users access to anti-aliased lines that give graphics a finished appearance. In addition, true transparency allows users to layer objects and reveal items that are underneath, Browne said.
“With Quartz, programming interfaces can be used to extend the applications power,” Browne said. “You can apply transparency to graphics, such as charts, for use within applications. Quartz also lets you make applications more informative by making graphics more readable. For instance, you can have transparencies, even gradient transparencies, in charts. It makes charts more readable and more understandable, for instance. This has changed the entire nature of Excel.”
Office 10 will also support new features not necessarily tied into Mac OS X itself. In Word, Multiple Selection and Clear Formatting in Word enables users to select several stretches of text in the document and apply customized formatting to all of them at once. In Excel — which Browne said is the “best looking” version of the app ever — there are new Customizable Keyboard Short Cuts and a new AutoRecover feature that eases the recovery of work in case of a computer crash.
Enhancements to animation effects in the PowerPoint presentation graphics program support richer QuickTime Movies and improved Collected Linked Files. Finally, users can access the new “Getting Started with Microsoft ‘Office 10′” product guide, which will be available in PDF format on the CD-ROM.
“We want users to be able to show Office 10 to friends and customers and say, ‘this is why you should move to Mac OS X,'” Browne said.
With Office 10 and other new Mac initiatives, Microsoft is expanding its investment in the Mac platform “tremendously,” he added. And for those who worry that the Big M will bail on the Mac platform next year when their five-year commitment to keep developing Office for the Mac is up, Browne said there’s no concern.
“Microsoft never walks away from an opportunity to make money, and the Mac platform makes money,” Browne said. “And there are a lot of Mac fans here, so you can look forward to a continued strong relationship between Apple and Microsoft.”