Wed, 29 Sep 2010 Microsoft Word for Mac 2011 review
Significant and substantive update to Microsoft’s flagship Mac word processing and page-layout app
- Manufacturer: Microsoft
- Pros: Full parity with Word for Windows, the return of VBA, much better, redesigned UI that matches the Windows UI, document formatting is much easier.
- Cons: Likely to be much more than most non-business users need, does not track changes made to images added to documents.
- Min specs: Mac OS X 10.5.8 or later, Intel only
- Price: Business Edition only: £189 inc VAT for one home business, £239.99 two activations.
- Star rating:
Additionally, if you save your documents to Microsoft’s SkyDrive, or if your business is using SharePoint Foundation for 2010 Enterprise, you have access to the Word Web App. So by using any supported Web browser (Safari, Firefox, and Internet Explorer), you can access and edit your documents via the Web. I could view documents on an iPad, but I could not use the Word Web App to edit them, at least not at this point in time.
The World Wide Web edit: Using Microsoft’s free SkyDrive you can save documents to the cloud and edit them by using the Word Web App.
If you’re accustomed to using Word to create not only basic word processing documents, but also the brochures, menus, meeting minutes, calendars, proposals, and posters you use to do business, Word 2011 offers a large collection of professionally designed templates, as well as many more that are created by and shared with other Office users. While I still don’t find Word’s Publishing Layout tools to be as easy or intuitive to use as those offered in Apple’s Pages '09, when it comes to wholesale customisation of these templates, Word has some distinct advantages over Pages.
At the top of that list is Microsoft’s Themes. Themes, which you can use with both word processing and desktop publishing documents, take advantage of the Styles used in a document, allowing you to make instantaneous changes to fonts, paragraphs, colors, and other layout elements simply by selecting a new theme. Word 2011 ships with over 50 layout themes, but you can also create custom themes to turn a generic Word template into something that’s unique to you and your business.
Another excellent feature is full-on Spotlight integration and a new Spotlight-inspired tool for finding and replacing text in a document. You’ll now see a search field at the top of every document that, when you type a word in the field, highlights every instance of that word in your document
Word 2011 now has a built-in equation editor that makes it easy to add and edit mathematics equations. The equation editor, which appears as an Equation Tools Ribbon when you add an equation to your document, gives Word a leg up on Pages, which requires that you buy MathType for the same functionality.
Word 2011 has a few other welcomed improvements and additions. Office 2011 also marks the reintroduction of Visual Basic for Applications, which means that Word is no longer limited to Automator and AppleScript for automation. There’s better organization of the tools you use to manage footnotes, endnotes, and bibliographies, and a new customizable, distraction-free full screen mode. This full screen mode is similar to what you’ll find in Pages or other word processors like Hog Bay Software’s WriteRoom. While the differences between these modes in these different applications is negligible, Word does offer a unique read-only mode that makes it easier for you to see, read, and navigate through all the pages in your document. This read-only mode also allows you to view all the changes made by the different authors that have worked on a document if you have Word’s track changes feature turned on.
Speaking of track changes, there’s always the question as to how well Word’s track changes feature works and how well documents shared between Mac and Windows versions retain formatting and paragraph styles. While I wasn’t able to do any extensive cross-platform testing, in the limited testing I was able to do, I did not have any issues with formatting, paragraph styles, tables, or images added to documents. You may run into issues if the fonts you have available on one computer are not available on the other computer. With regard to change tracking (again with limited testing), the only complaint I have is Word 2011 still does not track changes made to images that you add to your documents.
In benchmark tests performed by Macworld Lab, Word 2011 was much faster than Word 2008 at opening a file; in our Scroll and Save File test, the times were closer. We'll have more benchmark results in an upcoming lab report.
Word 2011 benchmarks
|Open with File|| Scroll ||Save File|
Results are in seconds. Lower results are better and are in bold.