Microsoft Word version 11.0 (2003) under Windows
2003 / November,
Office 2004 / May, 2004 (Macintosh)
|OS||Windows and Macintosh|
Microsoft Office is a suite of productivity programs created by Microsoft and developed for Microsoft Windows and Apple Macintosh operating systems. As well as the office applications, it includes associated servers and Web-based services.
Office is considered to be the de facto standard for productivity programs, and has many features not present in other suites. However, the reverse is also true, with other programs having capabilities Office doesn't.
These programs are included in all editions of Microsoft Office 2003, except Microsoft Office Basic Edition 2003. Microsoft Office Basic Edition includes Word, Excel and Outlook only.
Microsoft Word is a word processor. It is considered to be the main program of Office. It possesses a dominant market share in the word processor market. Its proprietary DOC format is considered a de facto standard, although its most recent version, Word 11.0/2003, also supports an XML-based format. Word is also available in some editions of Microsoft Works. It is available for the Windows and Macintosh platforms. Its main competitors are OpenOffice.org Writer, StarOffice, Corel WordPerfect and Apple Pages.
Microsoft Excel is a spreadsheet program. Like Microsoft Word, it possesses a dominant market share. It was originally a competitor to the dominant Lotus 1-2-3 but it eventually outsold it and became the de facto standard. It is available for the Windows and Macintosh platforms. Its main competitors are OpenOffice.org Calc, StarOffice and Corel Quattro Pro.
Microsoft Outlook, not to be confused with Outlook Express, is a personal information manager and e-mail communication software. The replacement for Microsoft Mail starting in the 1997 version of Office, it includes an e-mail client, calendar, task manager and address book. Its e-mail program's main competitors are Mozilla Thunderbird/Mozilla and Eudora. Its personal information manager's main competitors are Mozilla and Lotus Organizer. It is available for Windows; a version is also included with most Pocket PC handhelds. Its Macintosh equivalent is Microsoft Entourage.
Microsoft PowerPoint is a popular presentation program for Windows and Macintosh. It is used to create slideshows, composed of text, graphics, movies and other objects, which can be displayed on-screen and navigated through by the presenter or printed out on transparencies or slides. Windows Mobile 2005 (Magneto) will have a version of this program. It possesses a dominant market share. Its main competitors are OpenOffice.org Impress, Corel WordPerfect and Apple Keynote.
Beginning with the 1997 edition, Microsoft Agent (in 9.0/2000 and up) and a similar actor technology (in 8.0/'97) have been used to provide the Office Assistant, an interactive help tool. The "Assistant" is often dubbed "Clippy" or "Clippit," due to its default to CLIPPIT.ACS.
Also, beginning with Macintosh Office 1998, the Macintosh and Windows versions of Office share the same file format. Consequently, any Macintosh with Office 1998 or later can read documents created with Windows Office 8.0 (1997) or later, and vice-versa.
Office 11.0/2003 introduced a new, optional file format for the entire suite, built on XML technology. Office X for Mac is also built to handle this file format.
The Windows version of Microsoft Office 11.0/2003 is available in six editions. These are:
The Macintosh version, Microsoft Office for Mac 2004, is available in three editions. All include Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Entourage. They are identical except for pricing and the inclusion of Virtual PC in the Professional Edition.
Pricing as of April 9, 2005  
Microsoft develops Office primarily for Windows and secondarily for Macintosh. However, most versions of the suite can also be run on Unix-like operating systems through the use of a compatibility layer such as CrossOver Office or WINE.
As a general rule of thumb, the older, simpler versions do tend to run considerably better on Wine; however, newer versions have been known to work as well.
There have been variants of the later versions such as Small Business Edition, Student and Teacher Edition, Professional Edition and Developer Edition with slightly different collections of applications.
A major feature of applications in the Office suite is the ability for users and third party companies to write Office COM add-ins. Component Object Model (COM) add-ins are supplemental programs that extend the capabilities of an application by adding custom commands and specialized features that can accommodate specific tasks.
For some reason, most versions of Microsoft Office (including 97 and later, and possibly 4.3) use their own widget set, and as a result do not blend in with the native operating system.
Whereas Windows uses "Service Packs", Office used to release "Service Releases". However, after Office 2000 Service Release 1, Office now only release Service Packs.
For those who are unable to aquire Microsoft Office, they have the option to download OpenOffice for Windows, Linux, or Mac OS X. It includes near full compatibility with Microsoft's Office, and its Word Processor is able to save a document as a PDF.
All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License (see Copyrights for details).