Office 2008: Goodbye iWork?

The nail may just be in the coffin. Those of you who were paying attention last week may have seen the many screenshots of Office 2008 for Mac floating around. While it’s tough to gauge an application package as big as Microsoft Office on just a few screenshots, what we are seeing looks very promising.

Perhaps the most interesting screenshot shows off Office Art 2.0, the graphics behind Office 2007 for Windows and Office 2008 for Mac. Not only does Office Art appear to deliver some amazingly powerful graphics tools (like SmartArt), it appears that Microsoft has taken the power of OSX’s GUI to heart and built a (dare I say) beautiful application.

In addition to finally being a Universal Binary, Office 2008 will also bring Microsoft’s long-awaited OpenXML (OOXML) format to the Mac. This will (hopefully) mean more applications built on a standard file format. Microsoft is also including a few “Mac-first, Mac-only” features that, if nothing else, shows they’re serious about keeping their Mac software market alive.

Will Office 2008 crush what’s left of iWork? Not that Apple ever intended for iWork to become a serious competitor to Office, but where will Pages fit into my daily routine next to a more powerful (and much more widely used) Word?

In the end, I suppose it comes down to personal preference and what kind of work you do. Pages and Keynote certainly are niche products. But Redmond is sure giving many of us a reason to look beyond that niche and keep giving MS Office a chance.

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