• Office 2004 and Office 2008 for Mac Can Coexist After All

    I just got finished installing Office 2008 for Mac on my MacBook Pro.

    A few reviews I had read stated that Office 2004 and Office 2008 could not coexist. This is apparently nonsense. If you actually read the message in the installer, it says that the Office 2004 for Mac Test Drive (that used to come with all Macs) causes issues and should be removed. It gave me the option of uninstalling my full copy of Office 2004 for Mac, but did not require me to do so, and said nothing about this not working.

    I decided to leave both versions on the machine, and they seem to leave each other alone. My default application for opening Office documents has converted to use the new Office 2008 instead of the old Office 2004.

    I kicked the tires on the new Word and Excel. Word opened a little slow at first as it built the font menu cache, but after closing and reopening it again it was super snappy (I’m on an old MacBook Pro 2.16 Ghz Core Duo with 2 GB of RAM for comparison purposes). I opened existing Word and Excel documents from Windows and Office 2004 for Mac fine, and saw that in the options you can set the apps up to default to an older compatibility mode if you so desire (since the programs now use the new XML-based Office formats).

    The apps seem much snappier than the old emulated versions in Office 2004 running in Rosetta (no surprises there, although I have read a lot of reviews saying the new version is slow). The UIs look radically improved, and Excel now goes up to over a million rows which is both scary and cool at the same time.

    Some reviews also bitched about the fact that Office 2008 had an installer instead of being just a drag-and-drop .app file, which they declared “un-Mac-like”. This is both piffle and flummery in my opinion. Much like many OS X installers for Apple apps (such as the Developer Tools suite), the installer lets you configure options for what you want to install, and is as Mac-like as anything I have seen from Apple themselves. I shaved off some features (like the proofing tools for Danish and Japanese) amongst others and saved 150 MB off the installation. The installer was also very intuitive, ran quickly, and did some checking for me to make sure I didn’t shoot myself in the foot. Hardly un-Mac-like.

    Obviously, I’ve had the app installed for a grand total of fifteen minutes, so let’s see how I like it after I have used it a bit. So far, so good, and at the very least the Microsoft Mac BU seems to have worked very hard on presentation and first impressions. Nice work, guys.

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