Pages ’08 (a word processor that is roughly equivalent to Microsoft Word)
Numbers ’08 (a spreadsheet program that is roughly equivalent to Microsoft Excel)
Keynote ’08 (a presentation program that is roughly equivalent to PowerPoint)
I only have a few hours’ use on these programs so far, but I am impressed.
Earlier this year I obtained a new Macintosh and made it my primary computer. It replaced a Windows Vista system that died two weeks after I purchased it. I have used Macs for years but always as secondary systems, mostly for writing reviews of Macintosh software. It wasn’t until my recent experience with Windows Vista that I decided to switch to a Mac as my primary computer. I now own a Mac Mini desktop system and a MacBook laptop computer. I find them to be much more reliable and easier to use than Windows Vista. They “just work.”
I have used Microsoft Word for fifteen years or so. I forget just when I started but do remember using Microsoft Word for MS-DOS and then upgrading occasionally, going through a series of versions for Windows. However, I switched to the free OpenOffice.org suite of programs for Windows a year or so ago. I did so primarily because Microsoft Word kept crashing on me, both on the desktop and laptop Windows systems. OpenOffice.org turned out to be more reliable; it never crashed or locked up.
I also experimented with Office 2007, writing about that experience at http://blog.eogn.com/eastmans_online_genealogy/2007/05/trial_version_o.html.
When I purchased the Mac, I immediately needed a word processor. The most popular office automation suite for the Mac has always been Microsoft Office for Macintosh. However, it is expensive, and I wasn’t too thrilled with Microsoft when my Windows Vista system died. At that moment, I wasn’t very interested in any Microsoft “solutions.”
I first installed NeoOffice, a suite of office programs that is based on OpenOffice.org but with a “Mac-ified” user interface. In fact, NeoOffice is about 95% the same as OpenOffice.org but does a better job of using the Macintosh user interface. Like OpenOffice.org, NeoOffice is available free of charge and provides decent basic word processing, spreadsheet and presentation functions. Not all the advanced features of Microsoft Office are available, but I found it performed 99.999% of what I needed to do, and it did so reliably. Of course, the price tag is great: free.
A few weeks ago, Apple released iWork ’08, the competitor to Microsoft Office as well as the competitor to NeoOffice and OpenOffice.org. The price tag certainly is reasonable: $79 for installation on one computer. Since I own two Macintosh systems, I paid $99 for the “Family Pack” that legally allows me to install the software on up to five Macintosh systems owned by me or my family. If I happened to own five such computers, that would be roughly $20 per computer. I only own two, so I effectively paid $50 per computer. You can also download and use a free version of iWork ’08 for up to 30 days.
iWork ’08 has been reviewed in depth on hundreds of web sites already, so I won’t write about its details. Besides, I’ve only had it a short time and am still learning to use its finer points. For full reviews, start at http://www.google.com/search?source=ig&hl=en&rlz=&q=iwork+08+review&btnG=Google+Search.
I can tell you that the Pages word processor in the iWork bundle seems easy to use and that I was able to start using advanced features almost immediately. It is quite different from Microsoft Word but seems easy to learn.
The Numbers spreadsheet program is significantly different from Excel, and I found transitioning to this program takes a little longer to use it effectively. Numbers seems to be aimed at producing charts and graphs more than Excel, producing excellent graphics inside the spreadsheet. However, spreadsheet macros and some formulas are quite different from Excel. I am still in “learning mode.”
I will use Keynote, the presentation program, for the first time at a talk I am giving at the American Library Association’s Midwinter Meeting in Philadelphia in a few days.
iWork ’08 can import and export all the file formats you would expect: .DOC, .RTF, .TXT, .XLS, .PPT, and many more. It also creates .PDF files. In short, you can read and write files created with Microsoft Office or most any other modern office programs. I have been writing articles in Pages on the Mac, exporting them as .DOC files, and then sending the files to Pam for editing. She uses Microsoft Word on her Windows XP system to make changes and then sends the files back to me. I review them and occasionally make further changes in Pages and then save them as .TXT files before uploading to the newsletter’s web site. The entire process works well and is actually simpler than it sounds.
All in all, I am pleased with iWork ’08 and expect to use it as my primary word processor/spreadsheet/presentation program. I am writing this article in Pages, the word processor in iWork ’08.
Microsoft will release Microsoft Office 2008 for the Mac on January 15. Prices will range from $150 to $500, depending on which version is purchased. Michael J. Miller of PC Magazine obtained a late beta version of that program and wrote a review that you can find at http://blogs.pcmag.com/miller/2008/01/microsoft_office_2008_for_mac.php. After reading Miller’s review, I’m glad that I purchased iWork ’08.
For more information about iWork ’08 or to download the 30-day free trial, look at http://www.apple.com/iwork.
Sorry folks, but iWork ’08 is not available for Windows.