Microsoft Corp.’s Macintosh Business Unit (MacBU) released Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac Service Pack 2 (SP2) today — a midcycle free update that is designed to improve the Office 2008 experience where it matters most to customers: speed, stability and compatibility. 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. 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. According to a recent study, customers indicate that the ability to share files while ensuring document fidelity between colleagues and friends on Macs and PCs is a top advantage of Office for Mac.1 This customer confidence in Microsoft Office compatibility is the biggest reason why nine out of 10 Office for Mac users would recommend the software to others.

“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 MacBU at Microsoft. “This connection unlocks the door for Mac users to Microsoft services for easier collaboration and file sharing with colleagues, customers and classmates.”

SP2: Speedier Performance, More Reliable

SP2 provides several updates across the Microsoft Office 2008 suite for an improved experience. The team incorporated customer feedback received through a variety of channels to prioritize updates and maximize the potential of the suite with increased compatibility and speed. Highlights of the release include the following:

• Two new highly requested features in Microsoft PowerPoint 2008 for Mac:

• Custom Path Animation adds the ability to author motion-path animations. Users previously could only play back motion paths.

•Default Theme lets users define their default theme, including fonts, color scheme and slide layouts.

• Increased speed in Microsoft Word 2008 for Mac (launch and scroll times) as well as Microsoft Excel 2008 for Mac with features such as calculation performance.

File Access — When, Where and How Users Want It

Many MacBU service packs are typically limited to feature updates, but with Office 2008 SP2, the MacBU team is releasing significant new capabilities that extend the collaboration and file-sharing abilities of Microsoft Office users:

Microsoft Office Live Workspace. Document Connection enables a more seamless experience for Office 2008 users to save and open documents to Microsoft Office Live Workspace from Microsoft Office applications, including Word, Excel and PowerPoint. In addition, the Microsoft Office Live Workspace today announced expanded Mac browser support to include Safari 4 along with existing support for Firefox 2.0 (required for Mac OS X 10.2.x or later).

SharePoint. Document Connection also improves the SharePoint experience for Mac users, allowing for easier collaboration within a SharePoint environment by simplifying how users can browse, access and manage files online and offline.

Customers Can Try Office 2008 for Mac SP2 Today

Customers can download SP2 for free today at 10 a.m. PDT http://www.microsoft.com/mac/downloads.mspx, and it also will be available from Microsoft AutoUpdate. Mac users also can access a full trial version of Office 2008 for free at http://www.microsoft.com/mac/products/Office2008/trial-download.mspx.

Nick.