Microsoft Office 2011 Q&A [UPDATED]

Recently, TMO reviewed Microsoft Word 2011 as part of the new Office 2011 suite. There were some questions for Microsoft that remained outstanding at the time of the review, and most have now been answered. [The final three were added/updated here on Nov 10.]

Q: Does the MS Office 2011 Installer install a copy of Silverlight?

A: No, Silverlight is not installed.

Q: What techniques can you talk about that allow Word to launch so quickly? Were there any security compromises involved, for example, leaving a residual process running? Or memory tricks?

A: None of that. We built better tools and processes for analyzing the boot time sequence and for optimizing individual steps taken during boot. There are no security compromises; we did extensive work on performance across all of Office, but never at the expense of security.

Q: What’s the philosophy behind (the installer) leaving Office 2008 on the Mac? Is it that the new suite can’t properly edit with 100 percent accuracy documents created by the 2008 suite? Most updates delete the old version.

A: Word 2011 and Word 2008 use the same, compatible file formats. Office 2011 and Office 2008 can be run side-by-side if needed, for example Entourage 2008 could be run alongside the rest of Office 2011, if a user’s configuration does not use Exchange 2007 SP1 or later, which is required by Outlook 2011. [Author note: the Office 2011 reviewer’s guide reiterates that all previous documents created with Office 2008 can be accurately opened with Office 2011 apps.]

Q: If one wants to use Office 2008 for some reason, you’d launch the desired 2008 suite app, then use the File menu to load the document. No problem. But what if one wants the file association for old docs to remain with the old version? Get Info’s “Change All…” isn’t selective, so it would also affect new documents that end in .doc created with Office 2011. That is, one can’t selectively apply that preference to just new docs with extension .doc. However, one could use the .docx format for all 2011 documents exclusively of one want to retain a distinction, right?

A: You’ve described the Mac OS X’s document association correctly. When Office 2011 is installed, it should associate Office files with the new version. Unfortunately other than the steps you describe, there are no other means to change file associations.

Q: One problem with leaving both versions of the suite installed, with majors apps by the same name, is the result seen in the Finder’s contextual menu, like this:

Finder contextual menu

Finder contextual menu ambiguity

Do you have an suggestions?

A: Microsoft recommends removing Office 2008 before installing Office 2011 to avoid that ambiguity in the contextual menu.

Q. One of our authors has been an Entourage fan. But he notes that Outlook 2011 for Mac is missing the Resend and Redirect functions. Can you fill us in on that?

A: Outlook for Mac does not support these features at this time.

Q: Why does the installer ask that Safari quit before the Office 2011 installation proceeds?

MS Office 2011 Install warning

Installer warning

A.  Because the Office Installer includes fonts that replace existing fonts, and it’s not uncommon for the existing fonts to be in use by browsers and other running applications.  If any open application is using a font that is replaced by the Office Installer, that application could become unstable or display information incorrectly.  Browsers are where we see users run into this issue most often, so the Office Installer checks for running instances of Safari, Firefox, Google Chrome, and Opera (the top four most popular browsers on the Mac).

Q: What fonts are installed and where are they put? 

A.  To see the set of fonts that are installed by Office, you can look at the contents of the Fonts package in the Office Installer.  To do that, right-click (or Control-click) on the Office Installer, and then select Show Package Contents.  Then, in the Contents/Packages folder, double-click the “Office2011_en_fonts.pkg” package, which will open the Apple Installer.  Then, on the File menu, click Show Files.  Our fonts are installed to the /Library/Fonts/Microsoft folder. 

Q:  Is there an install log for the whole suite?

A: Yes. Since we use the Apple Installer, installation activity is logged to /private/var/log/install.log.  You can use the Console to view this log file.  You can also view the log during installation by pressing CMD + L.