Moving into a New Office

Microsoft Office 2004 for MacThere have been some bad things written about Microsoft Office 2004 for Macintosh, as there always are when the Redmond giant releases anything for the Mac OS. But after having upgraded to this latest version of its business productivity suite this morning, I’m not sure I’d be willing to throw in with the often heard assessment that Office is bloated and clumsy. It’s true that none of the revised programs that make up the suite come close to being the most gazelle-like software I’ve ever run. Nevertheless, the one word that keeps running through my head, here at the end of a full day of using them, is ‘elegant.’ Really.


I’ve spent most of my time with Excel, which has crashed on me more often than it should on its first day in use. It’s perhaps backhanded praise to say that Microsoft has made the crashing process pretty streamlined, providing a quick option to relaunch and recover work. When it runs, though, it runs smoothly, having been overhauled in such a way as to finally take on the look of a bona fide Mac OS X application. The fonts look smooth, and the subtle interface animations run quickly and with just a touch of flair. In many ways, this was what I had hoped for in the prior version, Office v.X, which, riddled with speed and display issues, had always looked to me like an A-for-effort port (from Mac OS 9) that completely lacked conviction.

Office with a View

Aside from the still-glaring omission of synchronization with the Mac OS X Address Book, I’m most of all delighted by the latest version of Entourage. By leagues, it feels more reliable and fluid than its predecessor. And I’m almost ecstatic about the new, improved Custom Views, which will next year have a parallel in the next version of Apple’s Mail program in the form of Smart Mailboxes. It looked for a while like Smart Mailboxes would erase the competitive edge that Entourage’s Custom Views held, since both allow for meta-views of messages across different folders. But the new version of Entourage has enhanced this feature to allow Message Grouping, a real boon to my working style. It’s this kind of innovation that has made me say many times that, all conventional wisdom aside, Microsoft’s Macintosh Business Unit is responsible for some of the best software available anywhere. Sometimes.



  1. I’ve got my copy waiting for me to return to next week. I have to say that the single thing preventing me from using Entourage is that it’s not compatible with the OS X Address Book… I also hate the icon, and don’t want it my dock, but at least that’s fixable.

  2. Virginia, I’ve been using Sync Entourage-Address Book for months now to make Entourage compatible with the Mac OS X Address Book. In a way I kind of hate how inelegant it is, but I have to admit that it satisfies my main objective: to keep both those databases exactly the same. Anyway, the fact that I put up with this kludgy AppleScript solution is, by some measure, an indication of how much I like Entourage.

  3. I’ve used every major email client available for the mac that I could. Everything from Eudora, Mail, Mailsmith to PINE. And although I still secretly prefer PINE over anything else – Entourage 2004 has simply outclassed everything else on many different fronts.

    I have to agree with you – it is faster, with many excellent features. The three-pane view, the saved search states, the Project center and the continued attention to details that have long made it a top email client.

    I do have to say though – that as great as it is, the enterprise integration of Entourage into Exchange is still poor and makes it frustrating. It so nearly makes it a seamless integration into a windows enterprise environment, thus could lower the barrier to having Macs in the workplace, but stops short of a complete solution. So I continue to be a pain in the ass mac user inside my company.

    So for my 250 dollars on the purchase of office 2004 – Entourage easily made it worthwhile.

    Sorry to leave such a bloated comment Khoi.

  4. I am actually quite suprised with the reviewer. I didn’t think that a serious person would take dumb people seriously and give credit to people who bash Microsoft whatever reason they choose to. It is a well known fact that most of the anti-Microsoft rhetoric is too stupid to even mention, yet the reviewer gives credit to them as much as possible, and declares that for office 2004 they are wrong, as if they are right in other cases. Of course Microsoft does the best software, there is no question about it. The reason why Office V.X sucked is because Apple’s MacOS X was riddled by bugs and thanks to Microsoft’s efforts Apple fixed quite a lot of them. However, Microsoft’s failure for Apple platform would be a great news. This way, Apple will go bankrupt faster and Microsoft will have no excuse not to put these extra features that directly compete with Apple’s bundlings.

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