I am generally happy with Microsoft Office 2008 for the Mac. Things work pretty well – Word docs interoperate with Windows versions seamlessly ; Excel works almost perfectly with complex documents too. Entourage is faster, in general than Outlook, not a big achievement. But shortcomings do rear their ugly heads.
I would highly recommend avoiding the use the old Word format (.doc) with large documents and sticking with .docx (the modern extension). While working on my thesis, I was suddenly told there was no space on my hard drive when trying to save the .doc. Saving as .docx worked fine. I sweat bullets getting to that conclusion with no real support from Microsoft’s online documentation. This may have been addressed in the patches Microsoft issues regularly.
With Entourage, I was unable to find a way to get my notes – the Post-It looking things – which I use on my Blackberry for temporary information. Entourage also cannot invite people as optional. It can do great things Outlook cannot do, such as grouping contacts and emails into Projects. That’s neat but not fundamental.
Finally, today I encountered a big issue with PowerPoint 2008: On the PC, when saving a presentation you have the option to embed the fonts you used (assuming they have no copyright restrictions) with your file – to ensure optimal viewing or editing. The Mac version does not even offer that option and DOES NOT save the fonts for you – almost guaranteeing issues. Somewhat of a dealbreaker for me.
All in all, though, the layout of the applications is much less revolutionary (read Office 2007 for PC) and drastically more useful. There is some hint of the Office 2007 ribbons, but without the nonsense, hidden commands and extensive headaches. The applications also appear generally much more stable than their PC counterparts and run faster. Microsoft gets a solid 8 for this effort, as long as you are aware of the limitations and constraints.