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Monday, July 20, 2009, 07:20 am PT (10:20 am ET)

Office 2008 for Mac SP2 improves speed and stability

Microsoft is set to release its second service pack for Office 2008 on Mac, bringing improved stability, speed, and new features, such as increased connectivity with the Web-based Office Live Workspace.

In a statement issued Monday, Microsoft said the Office 2008 for Mac Service Pack 2 focused on three specific areas: speed, stability and compatibility.

The Redmond, Wash., company said a recent study indicated that the top use of Office for Mac is sharing documents. To that end, the Document Connection feature allows users to save and open Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents on Microsoft Office Live Workspace. The service also includes expanded browser support on the Mac for Safari 4.

The update was released Monday on Microsoft's Office 2008 for Mac Web site.

"There's never been a better time to try Office 2008 for Mac — with SP2 we are not only delivering on top customer requests midcycle, but also taking a first step in bringing Microsoft software plus services to Mac users," said Mike Tedesco, senior product manager for the Mac Business Unit at Microsoft. "This connection unlocks the door for Mac users to Microsoft services for easier collaboration and file sharing with colleagues, customers and classmates."

The update also improves SharePoint, which allows users to collaborate on documents. SP2 simplifies how users browse, access and manage files, both online and offline.

SP2 also features increased launch speed and quicker scroll response times in Word 2008, and faster calculation performance in Excel 2008.

Two "highly requested features" for PowerPoint 2008 have also been added: Custom path animation and default theme.

"SP2 delivers highly requested features throughout the suite as well as a new tool, Document Connection for Mac, that helps improve access and browsing to documents on SharePoint Products and Technologies and Microsoft Office Live Workspace," the Microsoft press release states. "These new improvements and features are part of Microsoft's long-standing investment in delivering excellent cross-platform collaboration and compatibility for Mac users, and the commitment has paid off."

Originally released in January of 2008, Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac saw its first service pack released only a few months after its launch.