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With release near, Microsoft previews Office 2008

Jim Dalrymple | Jan. 3, 2008
Microsoft Corp. has taken the wraps off the latest version of Office, showcasing its new features and capabilities.

Publishing Layout View also includes templates and guides -- similar to those in Apple Inc.'s Pages -- to assist users in creating and placing objects.

Word includes other new features, including improved support for formatting bibliographies and citations, OpenType Ligature Support, Notebook Layout View, and a streamlined Mail Merge manager.

Entourage 2008

The latest version of Entourage retains its key e-mail and calendar features, including junk e-mail protection, but the new version takes information management a step further. Entourage integrates tightly with the new My Day program, a floating widget that provides users with an at-a-glance view of their schedules and tasks. In addition, a new To Do List sits alongside the Entourage Inbox and displays all items in one place.

Improvements to Entourage's ability to block junk e-mail include enhanced protection as well as a new ability to detect "phishing" attempts -- an online fraud technique used by criminals to trick users into disclosing personal information such as account numbers and passwords.

Entourage's calendar adds color-coded categories, status indicators and To Do List management. Other calendaring improvements include meeting update and cancellation; meeting reply, reply all and forward; out of date invite detection; and invite-conflict and adjacent banners.

Another major change to Entourage lies in its search capabilities, said lead program manager Andy Ruff. Entourage now uses Mac OS X's Spotlight capabilities to allow users to search inside document attachments inside e-mail.

Users of Microsoft Exchange servers will likely approve of the compatibility improvements in the new Entourage, according to Mac business unit manager Craig Eisler. Eisler, who transitioned to the Mac version of Office after taking over the job, said that using Exchange e-mail and shared calendaring on Entourage 2008 is a far smoother process than with previous versions of Mac Office.

Among the Exchange improvements is a new Out-of-Office Assistant, Kerberos single sign-on authentication for Exchange servers, support for managed folders, and major improvements in the ability to manage and edit events and declare your ability to attend events to which you're invited. (Exchange compatibility features are not a part of the lower-priced Home and Student editions.)

Excel

Users interested in charting and formulas should appreciate the changes to Excel in this release. New in Excel 2008 are Ledger Sheets, templates that contain complete formulas and cell categories. Ledger Sheets are available for a variety of uses, including forms for inventories, invoices, budgets, payroll and portfolios.

"For a lot of customers, writing formulas [is] hard. Quite honestly, I don't want to write every formula I need," said Stuart DeSpain, lead program manager for Excel. "Now, if you insert a checkbook ledger, we do many of the formulas for you."

 

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