The once forbidden fruit has been revamped. Just over one week ago, Microsoft released Office version X for the Macintosh Apple OS X operating system in what the Redmond, Wash., company called record time – just over 13 months.

Some of the major upgrades include a liquid blue appearance to match the Mac OS Aqua interface, MSN Messenger 2.1 integration, Quartz 2-D drawing technology, file transfers in Microsoft Word from Mac to PC users and Entourage X, the new user interface. And the system isn’t as platform independent as it once was.

“We’ve taken Unix and married it to the Mac. It’s a whole new Mac, an open system. Our system is based on Darwin, which is our open source initiative,” said Willi Powell, strategic development manager of Apple Canada in Markham, Ont.

With the hardware improvements made by Apple, the company was not forced, as it was in previous releases on, to play catch-up on the software side. “In the past, when we announced dual-processor boxes, software developers had to do a lot of extra work to take advantage. Now, all the applications benefit because the system knows which processor does the work,” Powell said, referring to Apple’s pre-emptive multitasking technology.

Scott Erikson, lead product manager for Microsoft Macintosh in Mississauga, Ont., said the major changes were made to MSN Messenger. However, he also stressed the improvements in compatibility from the PC to Mac worlds while using MS Word as one area specifically where users usually experienced difficulties.

And while both companies are encouraging users buy the fastest Mac available to enhance performance, running Office v. X requires a minimum 128MB Mac system.

Microsoft in Mississauga, Ont., can be reached

Apple Canada in Markham, Ont., can be reached at

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