Microsoft originally released Service Pack 2 for Office for Mac 2011 over a week ago, but pulled the update when some users reported issues. Microsoft announced today that the Office for Mac 2011 SP2 update is available once again.
Office for Mac 2011 SP2 was originally released on April 12. The service pack contains minor updates across the board for the Microsoft Office applications, but the primary focus is on improving Outlook 2011.
Microsoft wrote in a blog post that SP2 resolves the most common requests and complaints related to Outlook 2011. It improves syncing with Exchange Server, and enhances performance when deleting multiple items among other things. Microsoft also gave IMAP account syncing a boost--which gives Outlook 2011 more flexibility when working with Gmail accounts--and included a new database rebuild utility to identify and resolve corruption issues.
However, a few days later Microsoft stopped pushing the update to customers, and issued a workaround to address issues some users encountered with the Outlook database updates. SP2 was still available for those who wished to download and apply it manually, but Microsoft ceased distributing it through AutoUpdate pending a fix. That fix is now ready, and SP2 is being pushed once again.
The Office for Mac 2011 SP2 update makes some tweaks aside from the improvements to Outlook. PowerPoint for Mac 2011 and Word for Mac 2011 also get some minor changes, and there are improvements that affect the entire Office for Mac 2011 suite, such as better SkyDrive and SharePoint integration.
I'd still like to see more parity between Office for Mac 2011 and the Office 2010 suite for Windows. In my opinion, the two suites should be as identical as possible--both in terms of the software included in the suite, and the features and capabilities of the applications.
There are simple features missing in the Mac version of Office that would greatly enhance its value. In Outlook 2010 on Windows, I display the newest messages at the top, and I can configure it to go to the "previous" message on the list, which is actually the next message because of the order they're displayed in.
That capability doesn't exist in Outlook for Mac 2011, so I have to display the messages with the newest at the bottom, which is less intuitive and requires more scrolling. It's a very minor thing, but it's the minor things add up, and help people work more efficiently. There's no reason why Outlook and the rest of Office shouldn't work the same on both Windows and Mac OS X.
The latest version of SP2 addresses the issues encountered by a small percentage of Mac users when installing the original update. If you previously applied the original SP2 update and did not encounter any problems, you will not notice anything new with this latest version. However, Microsoft still recommends you download and apply it so you have the most current update installed on your system.