On August 6th, 1997, Steve Jobs stood on a stage in Boston and announced that Microsoft had purchased $150 million in non-voting stock and promised to continue to develop Office for five years. While the crowd reacted as if had he announced his love of Pabst […]

MS_Office_2010_LogoOn August 6th, 1997, Steve Jobs stood on a stage in Boston and announced that Microsoft had purchased $150 million in non-voting stock and promised to continue to develop Office for five years. While the crowd reacted as if had he announced his love of Pabst Blue Ribbon, it’s one of the moves that’s widely regarded as having helped Apple recover as a company.

Microsoft recently announced its plans for Office 2010 — although the scant details make me think this was really just a “No, no, don’t go use the Exchange features in Snow Leopard; we’ve got you covered” move. Which begs the question: Does Apple still need Office for the Mac, like they did 12 years ago?

No, of course not. They have iWork and online services like Google Docs and Zoho. But I need it.

I can imagine myself staying in Apple’s Romper Room, only using iWork and iLife, only as long as I never, ever need to exchange files or collaborate with another person. Like it or not, Office and especially the .doc file structure has become the industry standard. The better I can adhere to that standard, without jumping through a ton of hoops, the easier my life is. Sure, I can print to PDF, but that’s hard to collaborate from.

That’s not to say I’m a slave to Microsoft. For simple layout I use Pages; Numbers is an acceptable spreadsheet; and Keynote is a totally kicking presentation program. When I write fiction, I use Scrivener. For my work at TheAppleBlog, I can use any sort of text editor I want. However, when I need to exchange files with other people — especially if I want them to make in-line comments or changes — I will default to the Office suite for the sake of simplicity, even for complicated files transfer without any noticeable issues between the PC and Mac versions of Word.

As much as I love hearing about Apple’s plans, and its commitment to OS X at keynotes, as a frequent user of Microsoft Office, in many ways I look forward to the affirmation that Office for the Mac’s development isn’t lagging too far behind its PC counterpart.

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  1. What about Open Office (Mac and PC versions)? I consider MS Office obsolete with that available for free download.

    1. I’ve had compatibility issues with complicated documents and OO. Also, I don’t think there’s any citation management software that works with OO — but I’m ready to be proven wrong.

    2. I tried that when I first got a Mac last September… Afterwards I was more than happy to shell out the money for Office. There are some missing features and its not as user-friendly.

    3. I tried OpenOffice when I first got my Mac. It worked well enough for exchanging documents among my friends and family but fell down hard when working in an enterprise environment where people tend to use the more advanced features of Word and Excel. My employer then started offering MS Office (Mac or Windows) for employee use at home at a discount (FREE as long I remained an employee).

  2. I personally don’t use Office at home or work. I don’t need to collaborate any more than I can do through email. I save nearly everything as PDF. I don’t recieve office documents and the few I do I can open happily in iWork. My life is perfect like that.

    For those that collaborate as Mark does, my boss does and many of my clients do I feel it’s a necessity. I know a bunch of people who use NeoOffice and OpenOffice and they are more than happy. Still, there are always those who need compatibility with the less used functions of MS Office and for that reason it will continue to sell.

    Office 2008 had a great little change in pricing, allowing non-students to purchase the cheaper version, but it’s still a rip-off. I’d like to see proper licensing (by companies who purchase MS Office) at a cost similar to that of Office in China.

  3. MS Office is the only application that caused my iMac to misbehave. I took it off 2 years ago and never missed it. Openoffice and Apple products are so much cheaper and better.

    Naw, Apple does not need MS.

    1. Man I wish that were true. Their ability to survive in almost any business/educational environment relies upon MS Office; wrongly or rightly it is needed by Apple if not by most users.

  4. iWork sometimes is actually better than the MS Office. But for pro spreadsheet users Excel is indispensable afaik. OpenOffice got better – ok – but it is still way behind iWork and MS Office. And as a Mac user OpenOffice is still hell.
    for my needs iwork is the best choice.

  5. I do need Office for academic writing. Software like EndNote, Papers, etc. do at most communicate with Microsoft Office or LaTeX. I`m no coder so I prefer Office.

  6. I always hate these “death of” articles. If no one needed it, it wouldn’t be available. Microsoft may have shitty products (I disagree but that’s what people think) but if they’re not making any money on something, they stop making it. Their 5 year Apple Office agreement ended in 2003 and they’ve already committed to the next version of Office with a feature preview.

    For me. I can’t stand that I can’t save all Pages documents in .DOC / .DOCX by default. I have to go to the share menu and export as word doc. Also, my book editor sends me revisions in MS word that pages doesn’t support. for wordprocessing, if you’re doing anything beyond RTF capable documents, you need to have word installed on your machine.

    I write and create in iWork ’09 (pages & numbers) but I collaborate in MS word because it’s the standard and that won’t go away for a very long time.

  7. To create effective training materials for my job as a training specialist, I use my own personal Mac with iWork and save them as PDFs. Word for the PC is practically worthless for creating anything with graphics in it. Publisher isn’t much better.

  8. In a word, “Yes.” There are still far too many people who do not believe a system is useful unless it has MS Office, even though TextEdit is more then enough for them. It’s not a matter of ‘is there anything better/cheaper on the Mac?,’ it’s a matter of being able to say to a potential new user ‘yes, if you really want it, MS Office is available natively.’

  9. I’m with you, Apple may not need Office but a lot of Mac users do. When I was writing my book we wrote in and collaborated using Microsoft Word. I tried initially to use OpenOffice and even NeoOffice but neither product was able to read the “notes” and historical changes from the newer Microsoft Word document.

    I had to get Office 2008 for my Mac to be able to collaborate on the book. I actually liked it though, it has some really good features and was surprisingly fast and stable.

    I still use iWork ’09 for most of my page layout or presentation needs, but nothing beats good ‘ole Excel and Word for simple spreadsheet and word processing love.

  10. Oliver Andrich Tuesday, August 18, 2009

    I just bought Office 2008 cause it eases he exchange of documents with my coworkers and boss. iWork is a nice office suit, but the office import/export stuff is not good enough. OOo is okay, and has better import/export features then iWork has, but OOo is something I don’t get in touch with. So, I decided to buy Office 2008 and live with it.

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