Microsoft Mac division general manager Kevin Browne yesterday gave Expo goers a peek of Office 10 for Mac OS X.

During his keynote, Browne revealed Microsoft won't ship Office 10 until "sometime in the third quarter" but did say Microsoft is waiting for Apple to release OS X 10.1 before publishing its software. OS X 10.1 ships in September, promises Apple.

"We have to fix a lot of bugs, improve our features and get them working as they should," Browne said.

The OS X version of Office 10 boasts an Aqua user-interface (UI), and 800 dialogue boxes, toolbar icons and alerts have been changed to match the UI, claimed Browne. It also exploits Apple's Quartz 2D graphics engine, meaning it supports anti-aliasing. This makes graphics more defined and permits transparent layering of objects.

Sheets, another OS X-inspired feature replaces some alerts and dialogue boxes. This means users can open and work on other documents within the application, even if the Sheet/Alert remains unsolved.

Although Browne warned that "we've never done a release of Office in less than a year", he went on to confirm that the company is "on course" for an October 2001 release.

"We'll announce a specific date in the next few weeks," Browne added.

Office 10 for Mac OS X includes Microsoft Word, Excel, the Entourage email application and PowerPoint. Each application offers enhancements unique to OS X. These include customizable keyboard Excel shortcuts, and the ability to select different areas of text in a single document.

Browne said the initial version of Office 10 won't include Microsoft's Smart Tags technology, which allows contextual data to be included in a document.

"We're very interested in doing Smart Tag technology but we didn't do it this time," Browne said. "We'll probably add it in the next major release."

Microsoft has sold 500,000 copies of Office 2001, 3.5 million copies of Office 98, and less than 500,000 copies of Office 4.2 for the Mac, which was released in 1995. The company also made version 2.0 of MSN Messenger available, which runs on Mac OS 8.0 or later.