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on April 20, 2012
I recently completed the MS Office 2011 Home and Business update to Service Pack 2 (SP2) and wanted to provide everyone with an update. My main work computers are all Mac variants, from MacBook Airs (primary) to 27" i7 iMacs (secondary), and all systems are running OS X 10.7.3 (Lion) with either 4GB or 8GB of RAM. I have one Lenovo T410 laptop running Win 7 and MS Office 2010.

PROS:

1. Absolutely SOLID Outlook performance improvement! Outlook was incredibly slow and fairly crash prone in Service Pack 1 (so frustrating that I nearly moved back to OS X Mail). However, I have to say that the performance improvements that MS put into Outlook under SP2 are genuinely impressive. Outlook is extremely fast now, with no lag time in operations (e.g. moving files to folders, simply looking at a different folder) that used to take 5-10 seconds to perform. While I haven't measured it, I'd go out on a limb and say that performance is equal to or better than Outlook 2010 running on my Windows machine).

2. IMAP SSL/TLS is now working properly (yay)! While I didn't see any mention of this in the release notes, my problematic, failed SSL connections with my hosted Exchange services have now disappeared and I'm now fully using SSL/TLS for secure connections.

3. Significantly improved stability of all applications. I was having some minor crashing and/or hanging issues with Outlook and Word prior to the upgrade, but haven't had a single hang or crash since the upgrade, knock on wood. While this is purely a subjective metric, the overall "feel" of all applications in the suite is that they are simply "unencumbered" and better "honed". The applications are quick, efficient, and get out of the way allowing me to focus on my work -- isn't that what a productivity suite is supposed to do?

CONS:

1. In the SP2 upgrade, Outlook performs a database upgrade which takes a pretty substantial amount of time (I have a gazillion messages, so maybe the time was just due to the volume of my mail). Once the upgrade is done, you'll want to check Missing body text in Sent folder messages as I discovered that messages over five months in age only retained their headers -- the body text of these message are now missing. Any messages which I truly needed copies of, regardless of sender (me or someone else), were archived at time of transmission on the Mac in a personal folder (i.e. PST), so I didn't lose too much as those messages were unaffected...

2. For whatever strange reason, Microsoft is still hobbling Office for Mac by not ensuring feature parity with the Windows version of Office. There are many little things that count (calendar management is different, drag-and-drop message management is different, etc). I could care less what operating system I am using, the Office suite should operate EXACTLY the same way on any machine. If MS wants to "Macify" Office with a motif that is more consistent with OS X, then that's great (and welcome). But, there is no excuse for not have a virtually identical Office implementation on a Mac and Windows machine. Having said that, Office 2011 is SIGNIFICANTLY closer than Office 2008 and probably represents a 95% parity with Windows Office 2010.

ADVICE:

1. I think this suite is solid enough to give it a solid 4-star rating. Again, with very little relearning (from Windows to OS X), you should be able to pick up this suite and be productive in short order. Even if you purchase the boxed version of the software, it will automatically update when installed, so you'll get SP2 right out of the chute...

2. The SP2 update is EXCELLENT and really supercharged the applications to the point that they no longer "get in the way", but rather now simply do what they need to do without frustration. The Outlook updates at A+. Stability so far has been A+.

3. MAKE SURE YOU BACKUP YOUR MACHINE PRIOR TO PERFORMING THE SP2 UPGRADE! I have no idea if the old messages in the Sent folder(s) are still there completely, or if there are just headers there, but this may impact some users with a strong need for access to historical messages. Having a backup will allow you to recover sent messages if you really need them.

Hope this review helps in your decision!
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on June 10, 2011
UPDATE: If you have been a user of the PC version of Microsoft Office Products, then I highly recommend that you try the trial version of this product before you make a horrible mistake! Once you convert your PST file from the PC version to the Mac version, there is no way to convert the file (OLM) back to the PC version (PST) file! Hopefully, Microsoft will come with a tool that does this; which they likely will because of the all the customers that will be very, very unhappy with the Mac version, which is very, very lacking! No automatic archive, email HTML editing will take you back to the 90's, no "undo" button if you are composing in a window away from the main program, and does no longer sync with MobileMe--nor is it likely to do so anytime in the near future. So now my iPhone is not up-to-date. I am very, very unhappy with Office 2011 for Mac!!

I admit it, I am a power user of Microsoft Office products, having used them since the first version. And I realize that the Mac versions have always been behind at least a couple of generations from the PC versions. However, the Outlook 2011 for Mac has only about 2/3s of the features of the PC version. I use a MacBook Pro running Parallels desktop with both Windows 7 Ultimate and Snow Leopard, so I can go either way. After I saw the new version of 2011 Office for Mac FINALLY included Outlook, I bought it and now, after struggling with it for almost a month, I wish I had never wasted my money on it! It appears that Microsoft just gave Outlook 2011 the bare, rudimentary features--just enough that they could give it the name; however they should have named it Outlook 2003 for Mac, as that is almost what it is comparable to in the PC version.

If you have the option, you are much better off to use almost any Windows version of Office and avoid the Mac version. If it is not an option, Outlook 2011 for Mac is a better option than the one included with on your Mac; however that is kind of like voting and picking the lesser evil for a political candidate! If you are a sophisticated user, get Parallels and Windows on your Mac and go for Office 2010 and save yourself a lot of frustration! The expression "ignorance is bliss" applies here, if you have never used the PC versions of Office, you won't miss the additional features missing from Office 2011 for Mac.

Let me elaborate a little: no undo button on the Mac version, the composing features (especially in HTML mode) are extremely lacking and spam? Prepare to be flooded with spam as there are no viable spam filters available! If you want to be productive in an high productive office environment, use one of the PC versions of Microsoft Office, even Office 2007 is much, much better than Office 2011 for Mac!
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on April 8, 2011
I purchased Office for Mac recently to use on my MacBook Pro. After three months, my experiences have been nothing short of disastrous!

I have been using Outlook as my default email software. Twice in six weeks Outlook has suddenly and inexplicably shut down and refused to re-open. As a result, I have literally lost access to months of emails, all my contacts, tasks, calendar etc. I need to refer to for my business and my personal accounting etc. Each time, I have also had to spend almost a day reconstituting a new email filing system trying rescue a few crucial past emails.

When I purchased Office for Mac Home and Business 2011 in theory it came with one year's technical support included. However, in practice, Microsoft has not been available to provide any customer support. So I have had to deal with this software disaster on my own. The first time, they could recommend no effective way of reopening my stubbornly forever closed Outlook program. They merely helped me to open a new one - leaving me with the messy problem of reconstituting my files. The second time, Microsoft actually asked me to pay them in advance before they would give me any customer support! I refused and decided to drop Outlook completely. Instead, I purchased Bento 4 to use with Apple's Mail email software instead.

I strongly advise anyone thinking of buying Office for Mac to think again. This is one of the shoddiest products Microsoft has ever produced. It is also a pity that Microsoft has not learned from Apple about customer support. I am sure that Applecare would have helped me fix this problem had it been with an Apple product.

Buyer Beware!

April 16 2011 Update of my earlier review :
I have just spent half an hour trying to use Excel spreadsheet on Office for Mac 2011. Every ten minutes or so, Excel suddenly closes down without warning and I lose all the data I have inputed. I am going to keep going because, for now, i have no choice. But I plan to seek out another non-Microsoft spreadsheet program that works on a Mac very soon.
All in all, my growing experience with Office for Mac is getting worse and worse. This is the absolutely worst software program I have every used in over 25 years of working with computers!! If I could I would give it zero stars!

Excel just crashed four more times - wiping out my data each time! So, I just ordered iWork on Amazon Prime. Hopefully I can migrate fully away from this awful Microsoft software very soon now!
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on November 7, 2012
This is the second install of this I've used, and it's fine. This one was a little quirky in that it took a little longer than I expected (about 10 minutes) to actually install, and then it went through a couple of rounds of updates afterwards. It seemed to want to keep finding and installing the second update from 09/2012, but I just quit the update finder and it seems fine.

Outlook is the only program requiring setup and the only reason (I think) you'd buy this version, so I'll limit my info to that. Both times I've installed this, setting up outlook has been super easy. The first time it was with a POP3 account and this time IMAP. Both installs I manually enter the parameters and selections and in both cases it ran first try. I wish I could say the same for my PC installs of Outlook. Also, IMAP runs MUCH faster on the Mac than my PC. I searched for options to speed it up on the PC but nothing will make it faster without creating sync problems. So far, no such issues on either Mac I have running Outlook.

Other than wishing it was cheaper, I can't complain about this software. If you use Office and like Outlook over Apple Mail as your client, this is the package to get.
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on December 4, 2013
Not sure why other folks rated this software so low - maybe cause I'm new(ish) to the Mac & after suffering in the PC world with MS software - you sorta get use to the idea of crappy software delivery. But, honestly, this app installed on my Mac Mini with no issues what so ever - all the upgrades/patches installed & I was up & running in less than 20mins. I was able to export 20GB - yes - 20GB - come on - 10 years of e-mail - like does everybody not save everything - or - is it just me ? Anyway - I export 20GB of e-mail from my PC's Outlook - imported it into this Outlook, created my GMail Account & was sending & receiving e-mail shortly there after. K - the 20mins was to install the software - it took almost 30mins to export my mail from my PC, another 10mins to copy it over to a external HD, another 10mins to copy it to the Mini's desktop & then another 30mins to import it - so - ok - grand total from cracking the software open to complete - 1 hour & 40mins - don't even TRY to rush this process unless you wanna risk corrupting your e-mail - I took my time & it was worth it - as - mentioned - exported/imported alot of e-mail with no issues what so ever.
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on January 5, 2011
First of all, I'd like to state that I worked in the defense industry for 25 years building aircraft carriers and submarines before joining my wife's woman-owned small business, where we do government contracting and professional certification training (PMP, CSEP, etc.). As a result, Word, PowerPoint, and Outlook are critical tools of the trade, and their Mac counterparts, while good for Mac users, don't really cut it in this environment. Overall, Office 2011 is much better than Office 2008, but no where close to being as good as Office 2007 or 2010, unfortunately.

Like many others who have been hit by the Apple "Halo" effect, e.g. - bought an iPhone when they came out in 2007, loved it, bought an Apple Airport Extreme Base station, found it to be one of the best routers ever, bought an iPad, love that too, I switched to a Mac. I was told - no big deal, Office 2008 is available, and you won't miss a beat. That was completely untrue! I had recently learned Office 2007 and loved the ribbon, and found that Microsoft did not use it in Office 2008! Big mistake. So I waited with great anticipation for Microsoft 2011 to come out and bring the ribbon back. The problem? They again had to try to reinvent the wheel! Rather than simply make the interface the same as Office 2010, someone at Microsoft had to try to over-think it, and make it different. This frustrates me to no end! People that want Office on the Mac do so because they more than likely have a Mac at home and are forced to use a PC at work, so they want COMMONALITY, not Microsoft's attempt to make their product different (or for "Mac" users). I have used both 2007 and 2010 versions of the ribbon, and have no trouble navigating them easily. I actually love the ribbon concept! However, in 2011 for the Mac, Microsoft removed some features, possibly in favor of adding taskbars to it, a feature similar to Office 2008. Bad idea. I also hate the fact that Microsoft went from the 2007 ribbon having a nice blue color to a boring, dull gray color in 2011 (again, more Mac like?).

Here are a few other concerns I have come across over the last few months using Office 2011:

Outlook (by far the Office 2011 product with the most problems):
What I like: I really missed Outlook when I moved to the Mac! Apple Mail is basically a "forgotten" program, as Apple hasn't made any improvements to it in a long time. I hated the fact that I had to find a plug in (e.g. WideMail) to allow me to preview emails in Portrait mode rather than landscape at the bottom of my screen, which is truly ridiculous because everyone's screens are wider than tall. I also missed the standard Outlook interface, which I am happy to have back (for the most part). Now for the problems....

1. BIG PROBLEM: Outlook won't sync my calendar with my iPhone! You must be using Exchange server, if not, you're out of luck. That's a huge problem for many truly small businesses that are not on Exchange Server. It also won't sync with Gmail or MobileMe. That's a HUGE step back for many business users.

2. When I submit Government proposals, I use delivery receipts and read receipts to ensure my electronic submittal was delivered by the deadline, and to provide a historical record of that. Office 2011 for the Mac DOES NOT OFFER THIS CAPABILITY!

3. I continuously get error messages with my Gmail sync that some messages "could not be FETCHed (failure)". Why? And then I find out on my iPhone that I have received some emails that are not showing up in Outlook.

4. The wording in the body of some meeting notices is garbled, and it isn't in others. Microsoft does not have an answer to this problem yet. My guess? I have noticed that meeting invites that come from others who are on Exchange Server come through correctly, while those who aren't, don't. I have shared this with Microsoft, but have yet to hear back.

5. I was syncing my address book so that my iPhone would stay in sync, and one day my contacts started replicating. I went from 800 to over 4,000 (had a similar problem with Entourage). I called Apple and they told me they are not supporting Office 2011 yet and recommend I cancel the sync function.

6. Now that I have Outlook 2011 on my iMac, I wanted to consider Microsoft's CRM solution that is supposedly integrated with Outlook, so I registered for the beta program. After clicking on the link for Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online, it said:

"We're sorry! Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online requires Microsoft Internet Explorer 6 SP1 or later. Please sign up using a supported browser such as the latest version of Microsoft Internet Explorer."

Such as???? There is no supported version of IE for the Mac.

7. I have received the message "Microsoft Outlook has encountered a problem and needs to close. We are sorry for the inconvenience". At least they apologize, but this has happened numerous times.

8. My auto-signature for HTML emails looks fine, but somehow ends up have double line spacing in it for text emails and ends up looking ridiculous. The line spacing changes automatically for some unknown reason. I had to create a second auto-signature, which I titled "RTF" to use in non HTML emails.

9. Another common error message: "SyncServicesAgent has encountered a problem and needs to close. We are sorry for the inconvenience."

10. Amazing! In the MIDDLE OF WRITING THIS REVIEW, AN ERROR MESSAGE POPPED UP in Outlook. I use multiple screens, and I keep email open on the one to the left. While typing this, the following error message came up: "Microsoft Office Reminders has encountered a problem and needs to close. We are sorry for the inconvenience". And, what's worse, every time it completes sending the error report and restarts, the error occurs all over again (it's stuck in an error loop).

Word:

1. Biggest disappointment for me is again the ribbon. I added two pictures to the images and video section of this webpage so you can see what I'm referring to.

PowerPoint:

1. Remember the advertisement from Microsoft, that you should be able to hold your Office for PC document up to the light alongside your Office 2011 for the Mac document and see no difference? Well, that failed on a file we sent to OfficeMax for reproduction! We had a PPTX file that contained a number of images and text boxes, and while it looked fine in Office 2011, it went outside the borders in Office 2010. Worthy goal, unachieved.
-------------------------------

While I will continue to use Office 2011, I have to reiterate how frustrated I am that MS didn't simply make Office 2011's ribbon interface the same as Office 2010. I deducted two stars for this. I also deducted a star for the lack of calendar integration, that's a huge issue!

I'd really like that message to get to the right person at MS, as I enjoy both Microsoft AND Apple products - whatever the best tool is for the job at hand.

In closing, with all of the problems I'm having in Outlook, I almost feel like an Outlook beta tester. In fact, I'dl like to be on the beta test team to help MS resolve these issues once and for all! Good luck.
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on June 4, 2011
DO yourself a favor.....

I strongly suggest given all the problems with Outlook 2011 on the MAC.
(Just Google "Mac outlook 11 problems"), you buy the product with 3
licenses of Word, Excel and Powerpoint as these are indeed worth the upgrade,
but I am still using Entourage for my Exchange connectivity, and I have
the option "Sync with ical" enabled in 2008. I sync with the Exchange server
directly on my Iphone. My ical's on Mobileme, and the Exchange
from Entourage sync up to Mobileme, hence my home MBP and Ipad all
have all my ical's up to date and exchange from my work MBP.

Or you can buy this version and wait for MS to fix the problems
which are too numerous to list here, but too bad for me to use period.
It's a 1.0 product from Microsoft with one patch... also, it is very
far short from Windows Outlook, so be warned. I am disappointed right
now. Hope in the future to update this review but just like Apple,
MS don't listen too well either...

*** UPDATE 12/26/2011 ***

Well it does appear that MS has fixed a whole lot of things first broken
with Outlook 2001! Since Lion came out, and Entourage 2008 is not supported
anymore, I had a choice of using Apple Mail, or Outlook. Wanting to keep my
Business Exchange mail separate from my personal Apple Mail, I connected
2011 Outlook with MS exchange under LION 20.7 Mac OS X, and it has worked
flawlessly. Granted it does not have all the features of Windows Outlook,
but it has everything I need for work. Outlook Mail, Cal and address book
work well, and it integrates quite nicely with my Apple ical as I like to
add the Exchange server Caldav to my apple ical so I can keep an eye on my
multiple personal calendars, and my business calendar at the same time.

Very nice! Give it a whirl. 2 thumbs up for Microsoft's Outlook updates!
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on April 23, 2013
Since getting Outlook 2011 is the only reason I purchased the business version of Office 2011 for the Mac, I'm going to focus primarily on that. I already owned a personal copy of Office 2011, which I thought was a nice upgrade from 2008, but it lacked Outlook. I got a contract job that required Outlook, so I bought Business Office 2011, installed it, opened Outlook -- and couldn't get it to work. It would never take my SMTP settings information, no matter what I did. I even had the company I worked for take over my desktop to configure it themselves and they couldn't do it. This is how desperate I became for a working Outlook -- I bought a PC, bought Office 2013 for Windows, installed it, opened and configured Outlook with no problems and haven't looked back. Considering how long I've bragged about my Mac and its ease of use, I guess leave it to Microsoft to screw up an Apple product.
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on July 21, 2012
After reading the reviews I bought Office 2011 for my Mac primarily to stop having to use Parallels for Mac, Windows 7 and Office for Windows to have Outlook running on my Mac and keep my business up and running while on the road. I had tried Entourage and that was a mess at maintaining my contacts so I gave up. I had high hopes that this would be the answer. If you are business person and need to have your contacts sync through iCloud (or any other service) to your PC, iPhone, and iPad then this is NOT for you unless you use Microsoft Exchange. I spoke with Microsoft technical support and it is not possible unless you use Microsoft Exchange--period. Yet again, I find Microsoft stinks when it comes to making usable MAC based programs. So I will install Office Professional for Windows on my Macbook. See other reviews about the upgrades to Word, PowerPoint and Excel from Office 2008 for Mac.
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on March 29, 2011
I purchased Office 2011 to get Outlook.
I was able to export Entourage and then Import that file into Outlook.
That saved all my email and folders and contacts and tasks and Calendar. Smooth.

However, I was not able to get connected with Outlook Accounts.
If you aren't very careful, you may have created "IMAP" accounts, rather than "POP" accounts.
Most home users don't connect to an EXCHANGE SERVER, so we choose to use POP.
You may want to delete your account information and start fresh from the "+" (bottom left) and "E-Mail".
There is a check box where you can choose "IMAP" or "POP". Make sure to use "POP".

Also, check out the inbound email server port number. Outlooks comes with "143" in the POP server port number, but many ISP's use "110". This port number has to be right, else it can't download your email.

Also, the package says free 90 support, but when I registered and called Microsoft, they said it was a full year.

I think the applications are necessary and timely, if not hard to beat. The install and import worked better than I expected from years of working with Outlook for Windows and Outlook Express on both platforms.

It's an upgrade you can't ignore. It's stable and I'm getting used to the ribbon menus.
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