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Microsoft demonstrates compatibility features in Office 2011 for Mac

Microsoft on Wednesday released a new video highlighting new ways that Office 2011 for Mac users will be able to work with data in Excel and new photo editing tools, all compatible with Office for Windows.

Microsoft's website was updated Wednesday with the second video of a series demonstrating new features in Office for Mac 2011.

"What we've been able to do in Office for Mac 2011 is to bring a lot of power to bear to produce a professional looking document that's still compatible with Office for Windows," said Kurt Schmucker, senior evangelist with Microsoft's Macintosh Business Unit.

He said to ensure consistency between Word for Windows and Word for Mac, the Microsoft team would print out identical documents on both machines and make sure that the physical copies were exactly the same. If any differences were spotted, the team considered that to be a bug that needed to be fixed.

"Everybody speaks Office, and that's why Office for Mac 2011 brings a level of compatibility between the Office for Windows suite and the Office for Mac suite that's never been achieved before," Schmucker said.

Office for Mac 2011 will feature Excel Sparklines, which allow users to turn large amounts of data into a quick visual summary using tiny charts that fit within a cell near its corresponding values. Microsoft said it made the addition because most people do not relate well to large tables of numbers, but they can digest data quickly with a collection of graphs.

Sparklines will also be supported in Excel 2010 for Windows, which will make it easy for users on both Mac and PC to share workbooks across platforms.

The new Office for Mac will also allow users to do basic photo editing tasks within Word, Excel and PowerPoint 2011. Users will be able to complete tasks such as background removal and color correction.

"Mac users will find this new photo editing capability really important because of their emphasis on high quality graphics, visual fidelity, great layout, and good art in their documents," Schmucker said. "My presentations and my documents are going to look better, they're going to look more professional, and I can do it all in a software package I am familiar with."

Also improved in this year's update is PivotTables for Excel. They allow users to summarize and analyze lists with less effort.

New improvements to PivotTable reports and Excel Tables (formerly known as lists) provide users with tools to help them display the relevant details and add polish to results. The new PivotTable reports are said to be easier to use and more cross-platform compatible in Excel 2011.

Microsoft announced earlier this month that Office for Mac 2011 will ship in late October with a lower price per installation for all editions, starting at $119 for the Home and Student edition, and $199 for the Home and Business version. The 32-bit software suite will be available in 13 launguages: Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Norwegian, Spanish and Swedish. Two new languages were also added to the mix for this year's update: Polish and Russian.

For more, see AppleInsider's extensive coverage of Office for Mac 2011: