We found ourselves in an unusual situation recently. The Microsoft Office team wanted to sponsor TidBITS, irrespective of the fact that the Internet Explorer/Outlook Express group was already sponsoring us. When we decided to accept the second Microsoft sponsorship, we based the decision on three facts. First, TidBITS is a viable business and turning down a paying sponsor isn’t a good way to remain viable (particularly since a number of Macintosh publications have had troubles over the last year). Second, we’d never heard of a magazine turning down an advertisement because the company in question already had one in the same magazine. Third, and most important, we’re liking Microsoft Office 98.
That’s what it comes down to in the end when we evaluate whether or not we’ll accept a sponsor: is the product good enough, and, in this case, does it advance the Macintosh? Since we have minimal use for spreadsheets, Word is the crux of the argument for us. Despite the fact that Tonya wrote a book about Word 6.0, we used it only under duress, and although Word 5.1 remains functional, it’s over six years old and showing that age. Although we haven’t had Word 98 long enough for any major projects, it’s good enough to have instantly replaced both previous versions for those tasks best done in Word, such as working with book publishers and trading files back and forth with users of Office 97 for Windows.
Please don’t take the above comments as a review – they aren’t. Our full reviews of Word 98 and Excel 98 should be out soon, and we will say precisely what we think then. Nonetheless, it’s clear that Office 98 is proving beneficial for the Macintosh platform, with a number of reports of migration away from the Mac slowing or even stopping, thanks to Office 98 offering compatibility with Office 97 for Windows while retaining the look and feel of a real Macintosh program.