MacDirectory Magazine

Spring-Summer 2008 (#37)

MacDirectory magazine is the premiere creative lifestyle magazine for Apple enthusiasts featuring interviews, in-depth tech reviews, Apple news, insights, latest Apple patents, apps, market analysis, entertainment and more.

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Page 149 of 178

MacDirectory 149 CLOSER LOOK citations and bibliography tool. Just select the format you want, MLA, APA, Chicago or Turabian, enter the information into a data entry form, and the proper citation will appear in the document and load itself into your bibliography. The feature may not replace some of the better commercial add-ons for Word, but it's quite handy to have as a built-in feature. The Need to Excel Excel for 2008 also adds some rather brilliant new features that are unique to the Mac. At the top of our list is the remarkable Formula Builder. Excel 2008 added an elegant little feature that takes a fill-in-the-blanks approach to help get past the arcane syntax of the formula bar. For simpler operations, the Calculator tool offers a familiar-looking, pocket calculator interface that lets you point and click on cells and insert the resulting formula into your sheet. Another great new tool for the arithmetically challenged is Ledger Sheets. These are pre-built and pre-formatted spreadsheets for everything from address lists to stock portfolios. Office 2008's great leap in graphics power is reflected in a charting tool that has the great look of Apple's Numbers backed by the depth and power of Excel. Making a (Power) Point PowerPoint 2008 has been substantially improved. The interface has undergone a major overhaul and often-used features like transition and animation control are much easier to manipulate. Just about every tool you'll want is placed where you'd logically expect to find it. In fact, the intelligence with which PowerPoint handles graphics is truly marvelous. Unique to the Mac version is the ability to port presentations directly to iPhoto and, with a limited degree of portability, via an iPod. With Apple's Keynote rapidly maturing, PowerPoint is finally facing some real competition, but in Office 2008, the program is starting to catch up in terms of usability and graphics while offering substantially more depth in terms of features and interoperability. In Touch With Entourage The first thing you'll notice about Entourage is the cleaner, simpler look and feel. There is a new interface element, My Day, which provides a PDA-like desktop gadget to keep you abreast of your calendar and to-do items. Most of Entourage's improvements are under the hood with a far more robust database, enhanced support for Microsoft's Exchange Server. Expression Media Adding $100 to the price of the Standard version of Office it's hard to predict how big of a Mac audience Expression Media will draw. It is a reasonably powerful media asset management and sharing tool with a number of similarities to Adobe's Bridge (whose market domination is by no means threatened). The program provides support for a variety of image, video and audio files that will be more than adequate for a typical business environment. If you're in a Windows shop, the application provides a gateway to the PC's more robust server-based Expression suite. A major update that should be available by the time you read this should include a direct pipeline to the Mac's iPhoto library. The Office 2008 Experience Even on our Mac Pro, program launch times (particularly for Word) were less than impressive (and were not noticeably improved in the March update). Reducing the number of active fonts seems to help, but that may not be acceptable to a lot of users. However, once the program was running, all the interface elements were pleasingly responsive. Office 2008 no longer supports macros (a tumultuously controversial decision). But the good news is that the suite coexists quite comfortably with Office 2004, so if there are some macro-based forms and templates you depend on, you can run them under 2004 without a problem. For some, the extensive set of Automator tools (not available in the low-cost Home/Student edition) and expanded AppleScript support in the Standard edition should provide some consolation. Most of the applications that make up Microsoft Office for the Mac have been around nearly as long as the Mac itself. With many of the releases, it pioneered innovative design breakthroughs that left the Windows version to play catch-up. We think 2008 is one of those updates that leaves the other platform in the dust. The suite-wide changeover to a new file format and the Mac version's lack of macros will make life challenging for some users. But for many, the Universal Binary code base and a slew of great new features will make this update more than worthwhile. Product Microsoft Office 2008 Made by Microsoft Price $399 ($239 Upgrade); $149 (Home and Student Edition); Special Media Edition: $499 ($299 Upgrade) Pros A very clean, new look; Numerous new features; Greatly improved graphics handling Cons Loss of macro support; Slow startup Rating HHHHH

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