Top positive review
7 of 7 people found this helpful
Quite impressive overall
on May 14, 2011
Seeing how Amazon.com has tons of reviews about this, and seeing how I'm a Canadian, I thought I'd share my experiences with Office Mac 2011 here instead. I also bought it through Amazon.ca and the third-party retailer was excellent and highly recommended.
First of all, I've read some pretty negative reviews about this suite from Mac users, but I think it's more due to certain Mac people hating anything to do with Microsoft instead of giving Office an objective shot. Even though I've been a Mac devotee for 6 years now, there's frankly no arguing that Microsoft produces the best office suite, period. At the very least, it is the basis for all others that exist, and although none are perfect, I would argue that Office Mac 2011 comes close.
I've been using Microsoft Office for about a decade now, including the Windows 1997, 2000, 2003, and 2007 versions and the Mac 2004 version. I would not only consider myself experienced, but I've also used many of the in-depth features of Word, PowerPoint, and to a certain extent in Excel. So I'm not your average, basic-level user, but more intermediate-to-advanced.
I bought 2011 for Mac because I was coming across more and more docx and xlsx documents that I wasn't able to open and edit, so I decided to bite the bullet and "get with the times"; it was no point fighting it any longer.
What made the transition to 2011 much easier is the fact that I had a few months of intensive experience with Office for Windows 2007. If you're jumping into 2011 for Mac from 2004 or from a Windows version less than 2007, the adjustment to the concept of a Ribbon containing tabs across the top will be your steepest learning curve by far.
This way of laying things out at first was different for me when learning Office for Windows 2007, but it sure didn't take me long to very much appreciate the Ribbon and tabs concept. And I would argue that with Office Mac 2011 things have been refined far better than they were in the Windows 2007 version.
It would take me a long time to go into all the little things that I like better about Office Mac 2011 than the other Windows and Mac versions I've used, so I'll list some of my favorites. My favorite feature by far is not only the Ribbon, but also how you can view the traditional Standard and Formatting Toolbars found on earlier versions. Even better, you can hide and show them in any combination you wish, plus re-arrange the order of tabs on the Ribbon. So the transition from earlier versions to 2011 isn't as steep.
The way tabs are categorized on the Ribbon are also logical (Home, Layout, Tables, Review, etc.), as are many of the commands that have been chosen for each tab. However, not being to customize what commands are on each tab is my only real gripe about the entire 2011 suite.
Here are some comments about the Office Mac 2011 programs:
I like how the Home tab on the Ribbon has a good selection of the most commonly used commands. It makes switching to other tabs not as necessary. However, my only complaint again is the lack of being able to customize the Ribbon commands. Maybe I haven't used 2011 enough yet to be able to figure out how to do this. These likes and dislikes apply to Excel and PowerPoint as well.
I think it's overall just plain easier to control the look, layout, and function of my spreadsheets and again I appreciate the amount of commands found on the Home tab of the Ribbon. I haven't used any of the Charts features, however, so I can't comment yet on their ease of use.
On earlier versions, selecting slide Transitions and object and text Animations was cumbersome at best, and if you were really zealous and patient you would figure out how to find them and apply them and then get a good system or "rhythm" going as you laid out your presentation. With 2011, however, I absolutely LOVE how easy it is to apply Transitions and Animations, probably because they each have their own tab on the Ribbon. Each of these tabs, in turn, make it easier to see what effect you're applying since a little preview of the effect occurs right away. My only complaint is how the Entrance Effects section of the Animations tab, for example, will allow you to get a window to appear with all the effects on it, but then it will disappear back onto the Ribbon once you've selected one. I wish there was a way for that window to remain until I choose to close it instead of it disappearing automatically.
My favorite workaround for any Office frustration past and present has been to right-click on my mouse (or do a 2-finger tap on an Apple MacBook trackpad). Doing this brings up a window of the most common commands you need so that you often don't have to search a Toolbar or Ribbon in the first place.
So here are my pros and cons, to summarize:
PROS: Great look and logical layout. Customizable Toolbar commands. Customizable tab order on Ribbon.
CONS: Unable to customize Ribbon tab commands, and generally weak Ribbon customization overall. Disappearing drop-down windows in PowerPoint. (These Cons are the reasons why Office Mac 2011 only gets 4 stars out of 5, although I would give it 4 1/2 if I could.)