Upgrading to Office 2011 for Mac

We've recently upgraded to Office 2011 for Mac, and thought we'd share a few details that we've learned along the way, because it's nearly impossible to find the answers to some fairly basic questions upfront, beforehand.   No disrespect intended, but all we could find online were answers like "...I'm not familiar with how it works, but here's what I'd do anyway..."  Basically, they're talking out their a**es.

Please note that 401 Consulting isn't in the business of desktop computer/application support.  We're just offering this up as helpful input, based upon our experiences, for anyone Googling around for help / info.  Of course if you need marketing help, website design or custom app coding, let us know! :-)

So here's the scoop.


Q: The main question is "Will this upgrade my earlier Office 2008, or do I have to uninstall it first? Or...what?"

A: Prior to installing, there's really no clear guidance on this point, and the Office 2011 installer makes NO mention whatsoever.   So here's the real deal:

Office 2011 installs "along side" the original 2008 version and doesn't touch it.   We suppose you could consider that the ultimate in flexibility, and non-destructive, but we call it a hassle and a waste of hard drive space.  We'd prefer to remove/uninstall the old version and install the new instead.  One of the keys in this is that if you were using that garbage they called Entourage, then it might make sense to install the new 2011 package along side (since certain editions come with Outlook now) and sidestep the whole issue.  Easy for Microsoft.  Pain in the butt for the end users like you and me.  We don't use Entourage (terrible, terrible experiences with that in the past!) and have no intention of using Outlook.  We're sticking with Mac's Mail.app for several reasons (described a bit more below), so we can't say whether or not the installer would import all of your Entourage stuff into Outlook or not. Sorry.

So, you can uninstall 2008 whenever you want -- you can do it before, or after.  But it's up to you -- the installer for Office 2011 completely ignores the earlier version, and never offers an option to "upgrade", "replace" or otherwise "remove" the old version.

As a side note, we did it AFTER installing 2011, and let the new install import all of the previous settings (which was one of the questions it asks during install), and then found and ran the 2008 uninstaller.  This was sort of neat, because it pulled up a lot of the previous settings, etc. so we didn't have to recreate all of that from scratch. So that's one "pro" on the side of uninstalling 2008 after your new version is locked and loaded.


Q: Once I'm done installing the new 2011 version, how do I uninstall the older 2008 version?

A: There's an uninstaller icon, but it's buried.  To find it, go to your "Applications" folder.  Find the "Microsoft Office 2008" sub-folder.  Inside the 2008 subfolder you'll find yet another subfolder for "Additional Tools," and then inside that is the uninstall folder.  Inside the uninstaller folder there's an actual uninstaller app to run. Yeah, like we said -- it's buried!)   Alternately, you could do a Spotlight search for "uninstall" or "uninstall microsoft" etc. to find it.

Make sure to select ONLY the 2008 version because the uninstaller will show you ALL of the currently installed versions and ask you which to remove. Be aware of that so that you don't remove the newly installed 2011 version too! :-)

This is what we did, and everything worked fine at that point.


Q: Do I need to keep the older 2008 version?

A: Unless you have a very specific reason that you already KNOW about (and in that case you probably wouldn't be asking this question anyway, right?) the answer should be "no."  We don't see any reason to keep the old version around, other than the whole Entourage issue, if you've got your life in Entourage and have import/export issues moving over to something else...  Assuming your contacts, calendar and emails are safe and sound, there's no compelling reason to keep the old 2008 edition.  Word, Powerpoint and Excel (the core apps) are all backwards compatible with older versions, and have options to SAVE AS... to older formats.  So there's no compelling reason to retain those 2008 version apps.


Q: Do I have to install Outlook, and Messenger?

A: NO!   There's a "customize" button on one of the early installer screens (about the 2nd or 3rd screen in, right after you select the destination HD location).  If you click that, you can drill down into the components and UN-select any you don't want to install.

For many reasons, we hated Entourage and will also be staying away from Microsoft Outlook.   Micorsoft really loves to "take over" calendar and mail functions (we tried removing unwanted calendars Entourage created, and the next time Entourage ran it re-created them again, and there is NO way to stop it from doing that!).

We also despise the "WAD" style approach of "everything in one massive file" with Microsoft's PST files.  That is the single greatest, and never-ending, source of problems and headaches for Outlook users.  More than 75% of the tech support issues I see these days are related to Outlook problems!

We vastly prefer Mac Mail.app's approach of each message is a separate file.  No massive single file stores that crash the app when they get too large, or become unwieldy and slow to manage, lead to corruption problems, and so forth.   Plus on the Mac, we prefer using the standardized apps for calendar, contacts and email, that fully integrate with the entire Apple ecosystem -- iCloud, iPhone, iPad sync and interactivity.  Automatic syncing across devices and apps just works.  We are not fans of Microsoft 3rd party systems that get int he way of the seamless operation in the Apple ecosystem. Similarly, we didn't want MS Messenger getting its tentacles into everything, and left that out.    You can selectively choose what to include or not.  For our needs, we just wanted the Word, Office and Excel apps, and not all the rest of the Microsoft baggage, and Outlook.   That's very do-able via installer options IF you know to look for them!

We hope this helps!  ...and that it gets indexed by Google so that anyone looking for help with upgrading Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac to 2011 will be able to find it!  Good luck!