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Office for Mac 2011 is almost ready for prime time

Apple Insider is reporting that Office for Mac 2011 is almost ready for prime time.  This long awaited update to the Microsoft suite of applications is to include Outlook for Mac, for the first time.

Microsoft announced Friday that Office for Mac 2011 is now classified as “Release to Manufacturing.” The software should be on track for release by the end of October as previously announced.

The Mac Business Unit team at Microsoft published a celebratory post on their blog Friday announcing that they had “signed off on final testing” and sent the product to production. This latest release was two and a half years in the making, with team members in Redmond, Silicon Valley, Beijing, Dublin Tokyo.

Office for Mac 2011 should be Microsoft’s “best release yet,” according to Product Unit Manager Geoff Price, who authored the post.

Key features added include Outlook for Mac, co-authoring, ribbons, cloud-based storage, in-document photo editing.

Macworld reported earlier that online retailer Amazon.com had an Oct. 26 availability date listed on its website, but the release date has since been removed. Microsoft had announced in August that the product would ship by the end of October.

Customers who purchase Office 2008 for Mac between Aug. 1, 2010 and Nov. 30, 2010 are eligible for a free upgrade. All other users will have to purchase the standalone versions. Prices start at $119 for the Home and Student version, which lacks Outlook, and $199 for the Home and Business version. An Academic version will also be offered to qualifying students and educators for $99.

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