Microsoft sets pricing on Office 2008 for Mac

Standard version of the software, now slated for January, will sell for $399, while a Home and Student version will cost $149.

Although the release of the next version of Office for the Mac has slipped into next year, Microsoft is ready with the pricing and packaging options.

The product will come in three flavors. The standard version, known simply as Office 2008 for Mac, includes PowerPoint, Word, Excel and Entourage and will sell for $399. A $499 Special Media Edition also includes Expression Media, a digital media cataloguing program that Microsoft acquired from its 2006 purchase of iView Multimedia.

Both the Special Media Edition and the standard Office for Mac also include the ability to connect to an Exchange Server, as well as some actions for Automator, Mac OS X's built-in scripting tool.

The Home and Student version includes the four main programs, but not the ability to connect to Exchange or the Automator actions. The home version, which is designed for non-business use, can be installed on up to three Macs and sells for $149.

Microsoft said last month that it was delaying the launch of Office 2008 to January. Microsoft marketing manager Amanda Lefebvre said that the company remains on track with its revised schedule, with plans to wrap up the code in December and make the final product generally available to consumers and businesses in the U.S. on January 15. Other language versions will be released over the course of the first quarter, she said, adding that with the new release Microsoft is adding a Nordic language pack, which includes Danish, Finnish and Norwegian.

The new version is also the first to natively support Intel-based Macs, though it will also run on older PowerPC-based machines.

Microsoft is also launching a tech guarantee program under which people who buy Office 2004 between now and March 15 will be able to upgrade to the comparable version of Office 2008 for only the cost of shipping and handling, around $10.

The software maker does not plan to offer the public a chance to test out the code before the release, she said.

"We've decided against that," Lefebvre said, adding that the company is doing testing internally and with a select group of external testers. "There will not be a wide public beta."

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