So here we go again with another upgrade from Microsoft.

Microsoft’s latest Office 2011 for Mac productivity suite, which goes on sale tomorrow, promises to deliver better compatibility with the company’s Windows version of Office and corporate server products, while also presenting a revised user interface both familiar to Mac users and similar to the company’s Ribbon interface used in Windows.

Office on the Mac desperately needs an overhaul. The last release took a decades old Carbon code base, applied a comically foolish looking layer of user interface glitz, and then stripped away core features that its target audience of corporate users found essential, including Visual Basic for Applications (used in many companies to create automated template documents).

The Good

The new Office 2011 makes major improvements in adding back the VBA support removed in the previous version, and in dialing back some of the more ridiculous aspects of the previous day-glow user interface.

It also strives to integrate Mac users into corporate settings much better, with improved support for Office document interchange with its Windows counterpart, as well as other Microsoft server technologies, including multiuser document co-authoring when used with SharePoint Foundation or Windows Live SkyDrive.

Office 2011 also delivers some of the new features of the Windows Office 2010 suite, such as “Sparklines” data visualization charts that can be integrated into Excel spreadsheets, and support for Microsoft’s online Office Web Apps.

Performance in Office 2011 seems to be significantly improved in many aspects, with Word now launching in as little as six to ten seconds on a new machine, or a bit longer on older models. That’s comparable with the launch times of Apple’s iWork apps, although Pages and Keynote are not exactly speedy to launch relative to other common Mac apps.

The Bad

While the new Mac version of Office has made significant strides toward being a better contemporary of its Windows sibling, it’s still a rather disappointing set of Mac applications.

Office apps continue to ignore Apple’s modern Cocoa frameworks outside of some limited use in the new Outlook. That means for the most part that menu bar configuration is still non-standard and clumsy. Controls often work in oddly unfamiliar ways that are neither Mac-like nor even similar to Windows.

Thanks to Apple Insider.