Microsoft's development of Office 2008 for the Mac has reached beta status, and the software seems on track for release toward the end of the year, an in-depth report explains.

According to APC Magazine, the new productivity suite will offer a redesigned user interface (Escher), and the developers are focused on making the software's myriad of features easier to find, use and understand.

The software giant's lead marketing manager for the Mac Business Unit, Sheridan Jones, confirmed Office 2008 for Mac has entered private beta status.

The report also confirms that many hitherto buried features seem set to be easier to find and more visual to use.

"Part of our mission with Office 2008 is to expose all the things that are already there and make the product easier to use" Jones explained.

iPhoto integrations, floating inspector palettes, and Excel Ledger Sheets already pre-populated with commonly-used formulae also feature in the proto-release, which also offers a Dashboard widget-like scheduling application, which offers a daily view of what tasks, appointments and other activities you must deal with that day.