Microsoft will release a new office suite for the Mac before the end of this year, according to the company's manager for Office products in Germany.

The version available today, Office:mac 2011, lags far behind the latest Windows version in terms of user interface and functionality, although it has been updated since its release so it can be used as part of an Office 365 subscription.

Microsoft folded its Mac business unit, which developed the package, into its business software unit in 2010. It eventually shut it down entirely, according to German Office boss Thorsten Hübschen, so a planned version of Office:mac 2013 never appeared.

A new version of the package is long overdue.

At the Cebit trade fair in Hanover, Hübschen told Computerwoche that there are now development teams for each of the Office applications, which each produce versions of their product for different platforms. In addition to MacOS, other possible targets for the future may include tablets running iOS and Android. Microsoft gave a hint in this direction when it released an Android SDK at its SharePoint Conference 2014 in Las Vegas last week.

Microsoft has said little officially about Office for Mac during the last year or so, and indeed closed its Office for Mac blog on Monday.

According to Hübschen, there should be more news in the second quarter of this year. He said that Microsoft is already talking to large customers about the new Mac package behind closed doors.

Windows will remain Microsoft's flagship user interface, and other platforms will resemble this as far as possible, although they will try to use the special capabilities of each platform as far as possible, he said.