The long wait for Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac is almost over as the popular productivity suite has gone gold and is shipping to manufacturers, ahead of the its official launch next month at the Macworld Expo in San Francisco.

Users will have the option of purchasing the software in three different versions: the Home and Student Edition for $150, a Standard Edition for $400 – though an upgrade will be available for $240 – and a Special Media Edition for $500.

The new version of Office ends a nearly four year wait for the software. Mac users will also finally be able to natively run the productivity suite on Intel-based machines, rather than through Apple's Rosetta emulation environment.