Microsoft to Mac: 3 choices in 2008


SEATTLE -- Microsoft Corp. said it will release three versions of its Office 2008 for Mac suite in January, with the most expensive of the bunch aimed at creative professionals overwhelmed by the task of organizing their digital media files.

Office 2008 for Mac Home and Student Edition, which includes three licenses for Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Entourage, an e-mail/calendar/contacts program, will cost $150, Microsoft said.

A $400 version aimed at professionals who use Apple Inc. computers, simply called Office 2008 for Mac, includes the same programs as Home and Student, plus the ability to connect to a Windows Exchange server.

A third version, the $500 Special Media Edition, adds features to the $400 configuration, including Expression Media, a program that helps computer users organize and manipulate digital photos, video and other files.

Microsoft sells Expression Media, one of several new tools for graphic designers and other creative professionals, for $299.

All three versions work on Intel-based Macs and older PowerPC machines. The software maker planned to announce the lineup and pricing Tuesday at Apple Expo in Paris, France.

Apple announced in August that it added a spreadsheet program to iWork, the company's own productivity software suite. Apple sells individual licenses for $80 and family packs, which allow users to install the programs on five different computers, for $100.

Amanda Lefebvre, marketing manager for Microsoft's Macintosh business unit, said Microsoft's offering is "a really robust suite compared to iWork."

For Apple users who don't want to wait until next year for Office, Microsoft is offering an upgrade program. For the price of shipping, handling and taxes -- an estimated $10 in the U.S. -- the company will send a comparable 2008 suite to people who buy the Standard Edition or the Student and Teacher Edition of Office 2004 for Mac through March 14.