Microsoft’s Mac chief talks about Office

Microsoft Corp.’s Macintosh Business Unit (Mac BU) released its Office 2008 for Mac at the Macworld Conference & Expo 2008 in San Francisco earlier this week.

This release marks the second of its kind for Office for Mac, the previous being Office 2004 for Mac, but Office 2008 is the first Office suite to be compatible and universal across applications that also run natively on PCs and Intel-based Mac workstations.

CDN recently sat down with Sheridan Jones, group marketing manager in Microsoft’s Mac BU at Microsoft, to discuss value propositions and details around the launch as well as partner support mechanisms.

CDN: What’s Microsoft Mac BU’s overall value proposition around Office 2008 for Mac and what value does it bring to end-users?

Sheridan Jones: Our goal was to simplify things and to help people and really make something that helped them get their jobs done more easily. We want to make sure users are being more productive and under that, we have four key pillars that we took into consideration in Office 2008’s design. The first was discoverability and a new streamlined user interface (UI). We also have the pillar of it growing with you. So from going from novice users, going all the way up to advanced users. The third was around creating beautiful and professional output. And, the fourth pillar we looked at was compatibility. This release is particularly important not because of all the amazing UI work that we did, but because of all of the new features and the way we made the features more discoverable for users. We also went to the open XML file format so we can be compatible with Windows and also we’re universal. We also went in a different direction with our packaging. It’s simply beautiful packaging and it’s very environmentally friendly. So from 2004 to 2008, for every 1,000 packages, we’ve reduced our carbon footprint by about three-quarters of an acre. That was something that was very exciting for us and one of the things I’m most proud of.

CDN: Why would customers be interested in the Microsoft Office 2008 software solution when Apple’s iWork ’08 is also out on the market?

S.J.: Office for Mac is a very fully featured software suite and targets a different audience. We work in a space where compatibility is extremely important. There’s just so much in Office that’s important to our users. I think what users will like most with Office 2008 is that it has a completely redesigned graphic user interface (GUI) which is so easy to use. iWork is great and it’s appropriate for some users and we work very well with iWork and I think both products work really well together. I think business users will be very committed for Office for Mac. There’s a wide range of users that we’re targeting with this new release such as home and student users and also business users.

CDN: What is Microsoft Mac BU doing to help support the channel with the launch of the new software suite?

S.J.: We have all of the new SKUs and we already have this out in the channel and it’s readily available online and in retail stores. We want to make sure our channel partners are fully stocked with Office 2008. So we’re working very closely with our supply chain because there’s a big demand for Office for Mac and we want to make sure we’re working closely with our channel partners to make sure they have it in their stores and that it’s available to them. We’ve been on some really good channel road shows and we’re continuing that with our partners, including Apple. We’re doing that both for their retail sales people and going out to partners and training them in the retail space too. We’re also doing launches for customers where we’re actually doing demonstrations and sending people all over the country to learn more about Office for Mac.

CDN: What is Microsoft Mac BU anticipating will come out of this launch?

S.J.: Office 2008 is an even bigger launch for us than Office 2004 for Mac was. So this time we’re really out there and are working to get it in the hands of everyone and to talk to as many people as we can to let them know that this is now available. We continued to see very strong sales of Office 2004 throughout its lifecycle, but we’re starting to see a lot of interest with 2008 now. It’s been pretty popular and we’re very excited to see where we’ll go from here.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Maxine Cheung
Maxine Cheung
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