Microsoft's Kevin Browne, general manager of the company's Macintosh Business Unit, used his keynote speech yesterday to announce the new Outlook email client, a Carbonized version of Office for Mac OS X and the beginning of a new round of partnerships with other companies.

Browne revealed that, since the launch, Office 2001 has sold 250,000 copies worldwide in six languages. "We want to thank the Mac community for its support," he said. Despite the recent release of Windows Media Player 7 for the Mac, he said that QuickTime "is the standard for video in the industry". He gave a demonstration of PowerPoint in Office 2001 exporting a presentation as a QuickTime movie.

He also announced the immediate availability of Microsoft's popular email client, Outlook 2001 for Mac, as a downloadable beta. Microsoft's program manager for Outlook 2001 for Mac, Jensen Harris, joined Browne to demonstrate the company's fledgling solution.

Compatible Outlook 2001 for Mac is fully compatible with Exchange Server, and uses the same data-formats as Outlook for Windows. Installation of Microsoft's email client is simple, requiring only that a user name and server location be inputed. Outlook 2001 will permit shared accounts, and enables the main account-holder to specify levels of access to email, the calendar and scheduling information.

Browne stressed the cross-platform interoperability of the client, showing how users can share contacts, schedules and tasks across platforms. He explained that it also behaves as an extremely robust stand-alone email client. An audience of die-hard Macintosh users applauded, welcoming the imminent arrival of Microsoft's stand-alone email application. The final version of Outlook 2001 for Mac should ship in the summer.

Browne also announced Microsoft's preparation of a service release for Office 2001. This has been developed to repair "a few problems we have found", he confided. He also confirmed that Office 2001 will "run great" on Mac OS X and the stealthily released Mac OS 9.1 (Fortissimo) upgrade. He promised that the client would be released in March, predicting it would be posted before Mac OS X goes on sale on March 24.

Quality On Office 2001's success in the Mac market, Browne said: "This level of positive response is testament to the value and quality of Microsoft's Mac products." He also believes that this success could lead to further acceptance of future Microsoft product offerings.

He reaffirmed the Mac Business Unit's commitment to Mac OS: "We want to evangelize the Mac within Microsoft."

In a separate statement he said that "Microsoft loves OS X", but warned that some Microsoft units could be "sweating a bit".

He discussed the resources Microsoft is bringing to bear on Office 2001 to Mac OS X, and promised autumn availability for the product. The Carbonized application will offer an Aquafied interface he said, revealing that Entourage has been given a smarter look-&-feel, and will include "several new features". He also predicted significant performance improvements in the application. Microsoft will offer the Mac OS X-happy Office 2001 upgrade for $149 for a limited period.

The company revealed closer partnerships with Epson and MYOB, announced the availability of Mac drivers for many of its keyboards and mice, and promised more announcements during Macworld Expo, New York.