Microsoft to deliver Mac Office file converters in June

Office 2004 for Mac users will get oft-delayed converters, vows manager

Microsoft will deliver its delay-plagued Open XML file converters for Office 2004 for Mac next month, the company reaffirmed Tuesday.

"Yes, we will have the converters ready," said Kurt Schmucker, group product manager in Microsoft's Mac Business Unit.

In February, Microsoft delayed the release of Open XML converters that would let Office 2004 for Mac users work with documents produced by Office 2007 on Windows and Office 2008 on the Mac. At the time, Microsoft said it would release the converters in late June.

Geoff Price, who heads development at the Mac team, said then that the push-back was necessary in order to free up resources to work on a security and stability update to Office 2008 for Mac. That update was posted March 11.

Both Office 2007 on Windows and Office 2008 for Mac use the new Open XML formats as the defaults for Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Office 2004, however, cannot open those documents or save existing files as Open XML without special converters.

A year ago, Microsoft missed its own deadline for betas of the file converters by at least a month, then in August again delayed the tools when it postponed Office 2008 itself. It has issued beta converters for Word and PowerPoint, but has never produced a tool to convert Excel 2008's native file formats.

Late last year, Microsoft said it would release the converters six to eight weeks after the launch of Office 2008, which debuted in mid-January 2008; that timetable, had it held, would have provided the Open XML converters for Office 2004 for Mac users between late February 2008 at and mid-March. The delay Price announced in February effectively pushed back the delivery date back by three-and-a-half to four months.

Also Tuesday, Microsoft rolled out Office 2008 for Mac Service Pack 1 (SP1), which includes scores of stability and reliability fixes, application enhancements and two patches for security vulnerabilities.

Office 2008 for Mac SP1 can be downloaded from the Microsoft Web site.

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