In addition, some of Office X's apps occasionally fail to communicate with each other. Fortunately, Service Release 1 appears to have fixed these issues. At times, as we edited an Excel chart in Word, the Word and Excel interfaces would pop to the foreground two or three times, so that first Word would show, then Excel, then Word, then Excel. Service Release 1 fixed this, as well as another problem: if we had Word and Excel open simultaneously, CD-ROMs would not eject when moved to the Trash until we selected the Finder. Office X is all better now.
PowerPoint stands still; Entourage marches on
Of all the Office X apps, PowerPoint has evolved the least since Office 2001. Its most notable new feature, the PowerPoint Package option, lets you wrap a presentation and all of its attendant files into one neat little package, then move it into a single folder. To do this, click File > Save As and select PowerPoint Package in the Format pop-up menu. Then name the folder you want the files to reside in. Service Release 1 adds performance, particularly for slides with a lot of graphics. Despite the dearth of new features, PowerPoint is still the best presentation package for the Mac.
Entourage, Office's combination e-mail/calendar program, wins our most-changed app award. Unfortunately, it is still the weakest application in the suite. It sports an all-new interface with large buttons that make it easy to navigate among mail, address book, calendar, and notes displays. The redesigned Calendar window now consists of three panes, one of which sports a Task List that shows the day's events. And the Custom Views window (also accessible from a button) lets you combine address book, calendar, and mail information in many different ways, so you get all the information you need on a single screen. With Service Release 1, Entourage can now access MSN Hotmail accounts.
Unfortunately, Entourage still lacks some basic PIM features. You can't print paper calendar pages that'll fit in your appointment booklet or binder, for instance. Nor can you sync directly to handheld Palm devices--both features that the free Palm Desktop supports. Microsoft says direct Palm syncing will be available on July 15, 2002, as a free update.
Get going on OS X
Although Office X isn't perfect, we think it's one of Microsoft's better Mac offerings. If you've been champing at the bit to upgrade to Mac OS X, you'll be pleased to have this powerful package to use with your new operating system--just be sure to download and install Service Release 1. Office X gives you something to do with Mac OS X and shows off Apple's new OS with style.