Should I Upgrade to Office 2011 for Mac?


Background

Office 2011 for Mac is Released October, 2010. I got my hands on a full version a whopping 3 days before October. Here’s a quick review:

Short Version

Hello Outlook for Mac! (Goodbye Entourage)

Office for Mac 2011 matches up with Office 2010 for Windows.

Upgrade As Soon As Possible and you won’t miss a beat if you are an experienced Outlook User or Office 2007/2010 user

Wait until you have time to learn a new interface if you are used to Office 2008 or older on the Mac.

Skip it if you are happy with your current version of office and – you can open DOCX and XLSX files with your current setup – you use OSX’s MacMail and iCal or another program for mail and calendar and so you don’t care about Entourage or Outlook

A Bit More

If you are used to Office 2008 or older for the Mac, the learning curve of jumping to Office 2011 is bigger than any other version upgrade you’ve experienced. If you happen to know Office 2007 or 2010 for Windows, the switch to Office 2011 will be intuitive and easy. The crux here is that the whole Office user interface is now based on ribbons. Mac users still have menu items, but all the important User Interface (UI) stuff is in the Ribbon, a big toolbar across the top that changes according to what you are doing. If you want to insert a Table in Word, for instance, click the Tables tab and the “Create Table” is right there, along with most Table options you’d ever want.

The upgrade is similar to the one Windows users went through when they went from Office 2003 to Office 2007 (and recently Office 2010 was really just a refinement on the 2007 interface changes). Going from Office 2003 to 2007 was hardest on the power users. These are the people that knew how to harness every nuance from Office 2003. Now with the new ribbon interface, that knowledge did them no good. Casual users or those who used just the basics of the Office Suite had no problem upgrading. And in the end, I have heard over-and-over that once you understand how the ribbons are organized, they’re simply great. So, once again I say, upgrade if you are ready to deal with the new ribbon-based interface. Upgrade as well if you want a new email program that is on par with the Windows version of Outlook. But for those of you who don’t want to spend the money, or want to wait for something incredible beyond Outlook for Mac, wait for the next version.

And even more:

Things I haven’t gone into here but hope to along the way.:

  • Office online power
  • New features beyond the ribbon interface
  • DOCX and XLSX format discussion.