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Office, Macintosh still not a smooth mix

Microsoft says there are some incompatibility problems with the previous version of the desktop productivity suite for Apple's Macintosh computer.

With the fanfare of yesterday's launch of Microsoft Office 2000 still fresh in the air, the software giant says there are some incompatibility problems with the previous version of the desktop productivity suite for Apple's Macintosh computer.

Although Office 2000 shares compatible file formats with Office 97/98, "there are some features that have minor incompatibilities between the newly released Office 2000 for Windows and Office 98 Macintosh Edition," Irving Kwong, Microsoft product manager of the Mac business unit, said.

Office 2000 features, including nested tables, floating tables, table autofit, 24-bit color, and other formatting features are not compatible with Office for the Mac, Microsoft said. The Redmond, Washington-based Goliath has posted a document on its Macintosh support Web site with a listing of new features in Office 2000 that may not retain complete compatibility with the Macintosh edition of Office 98.

Kwong said a majority of the incompatibilities will result in differences in formatting, but Office 97/98 users can open all Office 2000 documents and read the majority of them exactly as they were authored.

Although the problems do exist in this newest version of Office, Rob Enderle, an analyst at Giga Information Group, said it isn't as bad as earlier versions. "With the previous version it was a real pain to view documents. With this newest version, I've actually been surprised with how easy it is to view Office 98 documents in Office 2000."

Enderle added that these issues aren't unusual with a new version of the suite. He expects Microsoft will soon provide a patch for the problem.

As earlier reported, Microsoft announced the shipment of its Office 2000 desktop application suite yesterday. A cash cow for the company, the slightly delayed release is designed to help small businesses better integrate their operations with the Web.

Although Kwong couldn't be reached for further comment, he explained in his email that his team is working on the next version of Office, though it won't be called Office 2000 for Macintosh. "We are on a leapfrog release schedule, alternating releases with our Office for Windows counterpart," something the company began with Office 98.