Top positive review
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Outlook works, finally
on 14 June 2013
Office Mac home and business 2011 is an incremental upgrade to the Office 2008, with one crucial difference: Outlook is included, and it actually works.
I've been using Microsoft Office since 1990 on MS-DOS, Windows and Macs, and, from memory, this is my tenth different version. Fundamentally it still does the things it was good at in 1990, but it has added on many peripheral tools. I doubt that anyone uses all of them.
When Macs went to OS X, Microsoft did not release an OS X version of the Exchange client. For a while we continued to use the OS9 version, but after a point OS X no longer supported OS9 applications. In previous editions of Office, Microsoft has included Entourage, designed as a Mac equivalent to Outlook. Entourage was fine as a replacement for Mail and iCal, if you wanted one, but, crucially, it never managed for me to connect to work-based Exchange servers. In fact, Apple Mail and Calendar worked, but MS's own product didn't.
In addition to an interface makeover, a handful of newer functions, access to MS online services and, Visual Basic, Office Business Edition now comes with Outlook. It connected painlessly to our Exchange servers, and allows me to give delegate access, which Exchange for Web doesn't and neither -- for our server -- would Apple Calendar.
If Exchange is important to you, this is worth the price of the new version, and also worth the price difference between this and the Home and Student edition, which doesn't offer Exchange.
The other new features -- and many of the old features -- are take-it-or-leave-it. The ability to edit pictures and diagrams is ok, but not as good as proper Mac software like OmniGraffle which does this in a dedicated fashion. Visual Basic is useful if you like to do your own programming. It's at least good to see it back, as it was dropped a couple of versions ago.
All in all, this is the first version for some time which really offers the same functionality (minus Access and Publisher) that the Windows version offers. It is also -- according to Microsoft -- the last version to be offered on a purchase basis, as, in common with adobe, MS has now moved to a subscription basis.