If you’re a Mac user like me (and if you’re not, you should really consider it already), then you should also consider the advantages of Microsoft Office 2004 for Mac.  Nothing I know is better at helping keep you organized and to work more efficiently, on your Mac, that is.

Consider this simple bit of logic:  With complete integration of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Entourage (for email), this totally built-for-Mac by Mac users suite has everything you need to get and stay organized in areas you may not have known even existed.

You already know about Microsoft Word, I’m sure, especially if you come from the world of Windows.  But it’s the Project Center in Entourage (the dedicated email program in this suite) that I discovered is a very simple and useful way to watch and to stay on top of email, documents and tasks related to a particular home project, such as what occurs almost on a daily basis in most busy families. And I’m not even talking about a business, unless you consider running a family the business of life (and I do)!


Let me offer some simple examples.  Let’s say you are balancing a career and trying to keep track of all of your children’s sports games and events and planning your daughter’s birthday party.  Meanwhile you’re tracking progress made on a major house remodel that involves contractors, interior designers and electricians . . . you can set up each in Project Center to help easily manage all of the different pieces for each of the projects.

Another possibility is the busy parent who has a career AND is responsible as a parent volunteer at school AND runs a home-based business.  How many people do you know like this! Well, again, a great way to keep track of everything, from the documents and emails associated with each particular class activity for which all the parents need to be contacted to everything having to do with managing communications and documents for that business, it is all manageable with Entourage.

Another valuable asset, the Scrapbook, can be used and accessed throughout the Office suite. It’s perfect for organizing frequently used photos, text, graphics and clips.  For example . . . You can take all of the photos from a recent trip, add in text from a journal and graphics you have saved on your desktop to create documents and messages that can be shared with family and friends.  It’s not the same as using iPhoto, of course, but if you’re interested in adding the journal aspect as many do today, the Scrapbook tool is the way to go.  I like it very much.

Of course, there is so much more, but I’ll let you read about it HERE.   It all just works!

To sweeten the pot, I just learned that Microsoft is running an enter-to-win sweepstakes for home and office makeovers, with four $10,000 grand prize packages.  The sweepstakes is on now through June 30, 2006 to win the $100,000 total in cash and prizes.  Customers are encouraged to visit www.microsoft.com/mac for more details and to enter online at http://www.officeformacsweeps.com/.

I’ve been testing the new Macs’ compatibility with Office, too, with complete success.  The NEW Macs, those with Intel processors – iMac, Mac mini and the MacBook Pro notebook (with more to come as Apple transitions to the new Intel processors across the line) have new architecture under the skin. That is, programs not yet built with what Apple calls Universal Binary code run in an emulator – Rosetta.  All the new Macs’ natively supplied software is already converted to this new code, and almost every day, more and more titles are being released. To date, some 3,000 applications are ready to go.  Microsoft Office 2004 for Mac, however, runs in Rosetta.  Microsoft is working on the next generation of Office for Mac, native to the new architecture, but until then, this version runs great in Rosetta.

Translation:  Microsoft Office 2004 for Mac runs just fine on the newest Macs and even runs perfectly well on my nearly 10-year old first generation G3 Macintosh.

If you want to see how Microsoft Office 2004 for Mac can work for you, download the free test drive at www.microsoft.com/mac.

The retail price for Office 2004 for Mac, Standard Edition is $399.  That’s a single computer licensed product. An even better deal for those who qualify is the Student and Teacher Edition, selling for just $150. This edition contains a license with installation keys for three installations.  Now, that’s a good deal! To buy MS Office for Mac, visit retailers including www.Apple.com/store, www.compUSA.com, www.MacMall.com, www.MacConnection.com,  www.cdw.com and, of course, Amazon.

Finally, I have to offer some thoughts on Microsoft Office versus the built-in applications that come on today’s Macs. There’s the excellent Mail program from Apple.  For many users, it’s just fine, but for those of us with lots to manage, Entourage offers more, and its integration with Word and the Project Center, well, Mail just is not as robust. As for a word processor, older Macs have Apple’s worthy AppleWorks and the newer Macs have Pages, part of the extra-cost iWork suite from Apple. As cool as they are, the world runs on Office and especially with Microsoft Word. Sure, most of us will never, ever need all that Word can do, but, again, it’s the integration with the other elements of Office that Pages and Mail do not have with each other that can, repeat, can be an issue to some users.

Microsoft Office for Mac is compatible with Office for Windows, too.

My bottom line comment is this – if you can get along without Office, then, I guess you do not need it. On the flipside, if Microsoft Office will make life easier, which for many of us is true, then go for it.  If nothing else, it’s worth a look through the free download of the trial version. Try it. Then decide.  I’ve used Microsoft Office for Mac since the first version and found it to be invaluable. Everyone here at Gadget Central uses Microsoft Office for Mac.

If you still have questions, call Microsoft at 1-800-426-9400.  You’ll find they also have excellent tech support!

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