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Wednesday, October 13, 2010, 07:30 pm PT (10:30 pm ET)

Mossberg reviews, recommends Office for Mac 2011

After reviewing Microsoft's upcoming Office for Mac 2011, which now includes Outlook, Walt Mossberg concluded that it was "by far the best Mac version of the suite" and recommended it to users.

The newest version of Microsoft's office suite is faster and better, although it is missing a few minor features from the Windows version, Mossberg said in his review for the Wall Street Journal. Office for Mac 2011 is due out Oct. 26.

One of the main draws of Office for Mac 2011 is the addition of Outlook, the email, calendar and contacts program popular with business users. Outlook, which has been built as a Cocoa application from the ground up, will replace Entourage, a Mac-specific email client bundled with previous versions of Office for Mac. Office for Mac 2011 will allow users to import Outlook data files, but it is currently unable to export its data to Windows.

Office for Mac 2011 also adds the ribbon interface that was added to Windows Office several years ago. However, unlike the Windows version, the ribbons can be disabled in favor of the more familiar menu and toolbars, which have been retained in the Mac version.

Though Office for Mac 2011 is missing several features from its Windows counterpart, it has also gained some Mac-only features. According to Mossberg, the "Dynamic Re-order" feature and a new Full Screen view with minimal distractions are features specific to the Mac. Pivot charts in Excel, full video editing in PowerPoint, and a "backstage" feature are missing from the Mac version.

Mossberg conducted several compatibility and fidelity tests between the Windows and Mac versions of Office with generally favorable results, especially with documents created in the most recent Windows version, Office 2010. Cross-compatibility between Windows and Mac versions of Office has been an issue in the past.

Office Mac 2011 is currently available for pre-order from Amazon.com, which is offering release-date delivery. The Home and Student edition is $110 while the Home and Business edition is priced at $175.