Microsoft has sent the golden master of Office v. X for Mac for manufacturing, signalling that the company is well on schedule to ship the product on November 19, as promised.

This version has been developed exclusively for Mac OS X 10.1. The company is taking pre-orders on the business suite in the US.

Kevin Browne, general manager of the Mac business unit at Microsoft, said: "The November 19 release is generating enormous excitement in the Mac community. We're proud to say we've been able to develop the best native Mac OS X application out there, in just a year's time.

"Our customers are going to be amazed at how well it runs on Mac OS X 10.1. With extensive support for Aqua, Quartz and Sheets, as well as the new features in all the applications, particularly Entourage X. This is an unprecedented release of Office for Mac."

Quartz Ron Okamoto, Apple's vice president of worldwide developer-relations, said: "Office v. X for Mac sets the bar for native Mac OS X applications. It's the prime example of how developers can take advantage of the power and features of Mac OS X."

He added: "Microsoft has gone to lengths to use the power of our Quartz graphics-engine and the elegance of the Aqua interface to create stunning, fast applications with features available only on the Mac."

Microsoft has also revealed that over 90,000 customers downloaded the Word X Test drive it made available in September. The test drive is still available now.

The suite contains OS X versions of Entourage, Word, Excel and PowerPoint. It also ships with a Mac OS X version of Windows Media Player and Microsoft Instant Messenger. The suite has been given a host of improvements - for full details read Macworld's story.

Microsoft Office v. X for Mac costs £430 for the full version. Users who have purchased Office 2001 for Mac, Word + Entourage 2001 Special Edition, or any individual Office 2001 for Mac application (Word or Excel), can upgrade to Office 10 for Mac OS X for the special upgrade price of £149 – available directly through Microsoft only. The standard upgrade price is £229. These prices are the recommended retail prices from Microsoft, and are inclusive of VAT.