Lets Talk About iWork and Office for Mac

obeezyDavid Weiss is an employee at Microsoft’s MacBU, and while he has makes it clear that he doesn’t speak for Microsoft or the MacBU, his recent post about iWork ’08 is interesting from a couple of directions.[…] Thanks to obeezy for providing this nice story on Digg (more than 767Diggs).

What other users say about this:

Oceansea: iWork is never going to fully replace Office, but what it is doing is giving Apple a suite with ‘good-enough’ compatibility which will probably improve year on year and if MS Office disappears, well with the Intel move there is always the nuclear option of using Office on Windows via Parallels or Bootcamp.

So it’s quite simple really as to what you should be using:

– If you work in business, you need MS Office for Mac.
– If you work for a corporate with all sorts of automated spreadsheets and documents, you need to use Office 2007/2003 via Parallels desktop or something.
– If you just need to share a few documents with friends, social groups etc. iWork is fine.

Andboom: I like iWork ’08, but its standard file formats don’t seem to be as efficient when it comes to file sizes… I load up my CV using Pages (resume for any US readers!) which is a 68K Word document (the document contains mostly text except for one small graphic) and save it out as a Pages document. Suddenly it is 128K! When we’re dealing with a few extra K I can live with this, but if I load in, say a 1MB Word document, it can sometimes end up as a 6MB Pages doc! Okay, so I can export the file as a word document and get a smaller file size but it would be nice if I could save Pages documents without the extra baggage. Same goes for Excel files when they are imported into Numbers. Also, when opening Word documents in Pages, my embedded graphics disappear… I thought it would import .doc Word documents without any problems! This seems like a pretty basic requirement given the claims that iWork makes about being Word compatible.

spinkaliceous: What will happen with iWork is ported to Vista or XP (like Safari is now)? Any thoughts to how it would impact the causal home user ($349 for Microsoft Office?!?!?!)?

da5id: Let’s not.

jamminman: idk about you guys, but I just yar-har-har and have both Office and iWork. I’m pretty satisfied.

bromac: There’s been Word Processing and Spreadsheet programs ever since we’ve had PCs.

I still don’t get how Microsoft gets off selling $300 word processors. And it gets more expensive when there’s progressively less to polish on the software and nearly no development costs left to recoup.

It’s as if they’re still trying to hock Model Ts with fresh paint as new cars. I just don’t get it. One of these day’s people are going to realize what they’re handing three bills over for.

frostieDude: What happens if Apple makes a Windows version of iWork? I could see it happening because it would add to the value of iWork for Mac and help lure people to using Apple stuff.

totorototoro: I like David Weiss’s writing-he’s always tried to keep the Mac community engaged in what the MS MacBU is doing. But his whole compatibility thing is sad.

The issue isn’t about how compatible Apple’s iWork is-quite simply, its not compatible enough for IT managers to be interested in supporting in predominantly PC environments.

The real issue is how compatible Mac Office 2007 is-and quite simply, its not compatible enough EITHER for IT managers to be interested in supporting in predominantly PC environments. They left out just enough stuff (VB, macros) to give it the label “Almost completely compatible with the Windows versions.” Which is the label of death :p

dignick: I can see why it’s taking so long for office ’08: they must be trying to understand how ooxml works.

qbqb: When he talks compatibility, he’s only talking file compatibility. If you want MS Office on a Mac, you should be Parallels or something similar – otherwise why bother?

Quix: Hmmm, $ for a suite of apps that are simple to use and put out great-looking documents and presentations (iWork) or $$$$$ for a suite of apps that include a bloatload of features that I and 95% of other users don’t ever use and don’t really need (Office).

Tough call…

Goodbye, Office.

bedouin: The MacBU has zero commitment to the Mac. Sometimes I wonder why it exists at all. I definitely wonder why they need so many employees to ship one product: Office. All other MacBU offerings were scrapped the minute a superior competitor arrived. For example, Parallels killed VirtualPC, Flip4Mac called Windows Media Player for Mac, Safari killed MacIE, and so on.

The minute a clearly superior alternative to MS Office for Mac arrives is the minute the MacBU closes its doors. Someone truly dedicated to their craft will see a superior product and work diligently to outshine it. The MacBU just throws in the towel, showing you time and time again where their true heart is.

If Roz Ho, who recently left the MacBU, was a symbol of their Mac enthusiasm then they have a /long/ /long/ way to go.

Altotus: Office and iWork aim for slightly different market segments. Office has all the features folks could want, while iWork works the way people would like to see MS Office work.

Macros exist in Keynote and Pages, but not Numbers, and they use AppleScript rather than OfficeBasic. Keynote is a far superior presentation app to PowerPoint by any metric. PowerPoint’s biggest selling point is that it’s the lowest common denominator. You’d be an idiot to use PowerPoint for giving a presentation, it exists merely as a way to collaborate with others that don’t have a choice.

Word for standard word processing is far more complete than Pages, but Pages beats it for ease of use, WYSIWYG, speed, page layout, and — oddly enough — compatibility with Word for Windows. MS Office for Mac’s biggest liabilities are that they are written for the PowerPC processor, meaning that they take 1G-2G of RAM to run on Intel and are slow and cumbersome, and they have an attrocious UI that’s even worse than the Windows version.

Numbers is a different beast entirely. It’s really nothing like Excel other than the superficial similarity of their being columns and, possibly, numbers and possibly a chart. I don’t think there’s any real comparison there.

However, for those requiring the more MS Office like features and behavior, OpenOffice will give you almost all of it (at the price that they function almost identically to the MS apps). iWork won’t replace Office, but iWork + NeoOffice or OpenOffice Mac certainly can.

cmadach: Seriously, why is it so hard for submitters to link to the original article, not the blog that comments on the original article?

proseandpromise: I’m just going to throw out that for usability, ease, and the amount of time it takes to make quality materials, Pages beats the pants off of publisher.


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