The last year Microsoft upgraded the Office for Mac productivity suite was 2004, so there are many Apple computer users keenly waiting for a new version. There was a time when Microsoft had no competition in this market segment but now it cannot afford to be complacent, with rival offerings such as Apple's iWork and various free open-source alternatives available. Tool kit Office 2008 for Mac delivers updated versions of the core Office productivity tools Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Entourage. Word has more desktop publishing functions for graphic displays of documents. One feature that may irritate users is the default format for documents: Open XML. You must specifically save files in the older .doc format if you want compatibility with archived data. The new Excel handles more rows (about 1 million) and columns (up to 16,000), so you have plenty of room to calculate those subprime mortgages. There is, however, no support for the Visual Basic programming language and that could be bad news for many. Look professional For decades, PowerPoint has ruled the lives of so many - both on Mac and Windows - that it is difficult to imagine how a better version could be made. Its new version has more slide transitions, quick access to pictures, symbols and other visual aids, and users can share professional presentations from a Mac to an iPod by saving as a PNG or JPG file. Entourage is Microsoft's e-mail client for the Mac and has had some success over Apple's Mail program. Entourage users will enjoy a simplified interface where they can customise the toolbar, colour code their calendar appointments and easily add travel time to meetings. It is certainly more business friendly. Perfect match It is clear Microsoft has put a great deal of effort into the design of this software. Mac users tend to be more interested in compatibility with Windows workers and that is Microsoft's greatest strength with this updated product. It is certainly snappier (on Apple's Leopard operating system, at least) and that always pleases. Microsoft's Office 2008 for Mac is available in Standard (HK$3,100) and Mac Home and Student (HK$1,250) editions.