Microsoft just announced the next major version of Office for the Mac.  It will be released in 16 months (!!) and have a (believe when you see it) almost Windows feature compatible version of OUTLOOK for Mac as a Cocoa app, which will replace Entourage.

“We’ll bring forward all the functionality from the Entourage Web Services Edition, including public folders, managed folders, and category syncing, but with Outlook we’re going even further and building a whole new application,” said Microsoft Mac Business Unit general manager Eric Wilfrid

To Entourage, Microsoft’s crippled Outlook for Mac, we have to say: it has been real.

Entourage has long been criticized for its large database, which is difficult to back up and can cause serious downtime if it gets corrupted. Wilfrid said that the new Outlook will use a new, modern database instead of the one used by Entourage

Frankly, by December 2010, we might not all be driving flyng cars, but many more people will have moved on to the cloud or to other Office applications (iWork?).  That is a long time to wait for a Cocoa version of Office.

 In a separate announcement, Wilfrid said Microsoft was simplifying its current Office 2008 offerings, going from three different editions down to two. The existing Home and Student edition will remain.

Replacing the $399 Standard Edition and $499 Special Media Edition is the new $399 Business Edition, which will include the Web Services Edition of Entourage and Microsoft Document Connection for Mac. Microsoft Office 2008 Business Edition also includes additional templates and clip art, and more than eight hours of training videos.


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