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Microsoft Office 2011 for Mac will be 32-bit only

Microsoft said on Tuesday that its Office 2011 for Mac software will be 32-bit only when it's available later this year.

The decision, spotted by ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley, for a 32-bit only version of Office 2011 for Mac is due to the fact Microsoft has not fully completed the transition of moving its ribbon UI over to Cocoa yet. Apple's framework requires Microsoft to complete the move to Cocoa before they can build a 64-bit version. "While Cocoa makes our job building Office easier, Office 2011 will look and feel great regardless of what technology is powering which bit of user interface", said Jake Hoelter of Microsoft's Mac division.

Microsoft has been recommending Windows users to opt for 32-bit versions of Office 2010 for comparability reasons. "We’re recommending 32-bit Office 2010 as the default installation on both 32-bit and 64-bit Windows mainly due to compatibility with existing 32-bit controls", said Ted Way, Microsoft Office team. Microsoft officials claim Office 64-bit is best for large datasets in Excel but that "over time for 64-bit Office to become the norm".

Office 2011 for Mac is currently in the beta testing phase. Microsoft issued a beta 3 update in late May which included brand new splash screens, icons and minor tweaks to several toolbar and ribbon icons. Office for Mac won't come with all the components that are available in Office Professional Plus for Windows, but will support Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook. Office 2011 for Mac will be the first time Outlook is available on the Mac, offering similar functionality and appearance, including a Mac inspired theme ribbon, as Outlook 2010 for Windows.

Office for Mac 2011 will also allow for multiple document editing, so users can edit the same document at the same time, without getting a lockout notice.  Office for Mac will include document sharing with other Mac and Windows office users, through SharePoint, SkyDrive and web apps. Microsoft officials say Office 2011 for Mac will be available this holiday season.

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