Microsoft will offer the next version of Office for the Mac by January 2011 at the latest – possibly as early as January 2010, the company said this week.

The company’s Mac Business Unit’s senior marketing manager, Amanda Lefebvre, also said it intends restoring support for Visual Basic for Applications in the next version, Information Week informs.

"We’re on a two to three year lifecycle," she said, admitting, "We were a little beyond that for our last round."

Mac users who purchased Mac Office 2004 had to wait four years for Office 2008. To try to prevent such delays in future, the Mac Business Unit has also initiated a huge recruitment drive, partially to find developers to work on Visual Basic for Application.

The company is also developing tools to integrate Mac Office into corporate Windows environments that run Microsoft’s Exchange Server and Unified Communications Server, said Lefebvre.

These moves reflect Apple’s growing market share in the consumer and the enterprise markets.

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