After numerous delays, Microsoft Office for Mac 2008 will arrive just in time for an official launch at Macworld in San Francisco. The new Office for Mac 2008 is the first update in nearly four years, and has native support for Intel-based Mac hardware. The update available the week of January 14 in three editions) brings a number of enhancements and new features to the Mac version, and improves on features found in Office 2007, the latest Windows release.

The basic functionality of the two releases are almost identical, but the layout and user interfaces are significantly different — just because you’re an Office ace in Vista doesn’t mean you’ll be able to switch to Leopard without a few hiccups. We’ve highlighted some key differences between the new Office for Mac 2008 and Office 2007 for Windows.

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Office 2008’s Elements Gallery mimics the functionality of Office 2007’s much-touted Ribbon interface by putting common tasks in an easily accessible spot near the top. But the user interface design and menu structure are significantly different. If you use Office 2007 at work and Office 2008 at home, the transition won’t be seamless.

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