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Office 2008: Goodbye iWork?

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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.

52 Responses to “Office 2008: Goodbye iWork?”

  1. Marcus Tempte

    Captain Morgan – I fully agree, there is no point without the PC sharing capabilities; everyone is talking about open standard but it still seems difficult to share the business apps.
    I am forced to run parallels with XP and Office in order to still use my PST file, which is a shame.

  2. Captain Morgan

    The only thing I hope for is better integration with Exchange. I’ll be damned if I’m updating our department Macs only to find out that their just as crippled as Office 2004 when dealing with shared calendars, tasks, public folders and the like on an Exchange server. The other thing that gets me is: what good is the Project Center when you can’t share projects with PC users in your department?

  3. Marcus Tempte

    Can anyone tell me why it is not possible to convert the PST file from Office 2003 or 2007 to Office for Mac (either 2004 or 2008). The biggest usage for me and the company is Outlook and I would love to be able to convert fully to Mac but I dont know how to convert the PST file to be able to use it on Mac. Does anyone know if it will be possible to convert an office 2007 PST file to Entourage in Office 2008?

  4. Long awaited OpenXML? It has been a while since I about this new format, but I hope they’ve progressed further than they had. OpenXML is a misleading term. I’ll stick with ODF if I can when it comes to file standards.

    However, I do enjoy using Pages over using Word. I hope Apple doesn’t get rid of it.

  5. >>How about you business types out there? Anyone forced into using Office but longing for iWork?>>

    …not forced. I’m self-employed. I choose to run Office. Pages is OK and could serve my needs but Office is so much more. I’ve no use for Keynote or Powerpoint.

    Frankly, if not for Office 2004, I probably wouldn’t be using a Mac right now. Everything that I really need to do with a computer can be done within a single package offering a unified, consistent interface. Excel stands alone and I find Entourage much more useful than any jumbled mix of Mail/iCal/Address Book/Stickies…

    I took a peek at those free alternatives but they seemed like little more than cheap knock-offs of the real thing. Aren’t they just that – a copy of Microsoft Office? Hasn’t Bill Gates and Company been constantly accused of similar behavior?

    As for Office 2008, native Intel support would be a welcome addition. The current version, while quite functional, still lags somewhat compared to its use on my PowerPC machine. I just hope that any frivolous eye candy is kept in check.

  6. why do you speak about the fact you are “used to” office ?

    win office 2007 has a very _different_ interface from office 2003. you are NOT used to it.

    and mac office 2008 seems to be very different of mac office 2004. you are NOT used to it

    so… openoffice, iwork or whatever… don’t tell me you are so used to a future ms office than you cannot use other tools.

    yeah , office 2008 seems to be nice and polished. we will see.

  7. Kamal, I’m already an avid Keynote user when it comes to Grand Rounds and journal presentations. Nice to know I’m not the only one (though I certainly am at my hospital). ;)

    I must say, I’m really pleased to hear so many of you echoing how much you love iWork!

    How about you business types out there? Anyone forced into using Office but longing for iWork?

  8. Number of major motion pictures made with Keynote: 1
    Number of major motion pictures made with PowerPoint: 0

    Some of us prefer to be 100% Microsoft-free, thank you very much!

  9. What a collection of utter rubbish. M$ Office is a real POS. Word is an abomination. Really, it survives beacuse people don’t know any better. Entourage is even worse. M$ is about 2 years late, they took away VB, and all there is to the new release seems cosmetics. I ditched PP for Keynote, a much better product. Will look forward to Charts or whatever the new Apple spreadsheet will be called.

  10. MisterKen

    I’ve been a faithful user of Entourage for a number of years. The integrated email, calendar, tasks AND project sharing are really powerful tools if you take the time to use them.

    I’m looking forward to this release!
    OMG…I just said I’m looking forward to a M$ product.

  11. I have a company purchased copy of MS Office on my Mac but find I use OpenOffice (X11) 99% of the time. I work with Macs, Linux, and Windows and got used to using it on all the platforms I support.

    Office for Mac is a great program, hats off to the Mac BU, but I just don’t need it. I prefer mail, address book, and iCal and, like most office suite users, have relatively basic needs when it comes to word processing and spreadsheets.

    With that said, when Apple finally gets around to releasing a spreadsheet I plan to become an iWork customer. A few days of evaluating Pages and Keynote sold me on programs, but I just can’t justify switching until the package is complete.

  12. Kamal Mubarak, MD

    Yasser, I am in medicine too, and I find Keynote indispensible! Come see one of my Grand Rounds in Keynote and you will realize why I left PowerPoint behind forever. I always get questions about how I do all those cool things and whether the audience can have a copy of my slides.

    Pages is different. No support for EndNote! So I can’t write papers or grants with it. But with Visual Basic removed from Office 2008, EndNote won’t work either. Either the EndNote guys will have to use AppleScript, which will work for Pages also, or drop support for the Mac! In that case, someone else will come up with a bibliographic solution for the Mac, and I can finally say goodbye to EndNote and their awful software :-).

    Give Keynote a shot for your next talk. You won’t regret it.

  13. Say what you want about Microsoft, but I made the switch to pages and keynote shortly after they came out and have not been disappointed. Sure Word does some nice things and is more robust, but in reality it is clunky and I don’t think the new version will be a slick or functional as Pages. I do a lot of academic writing and I find that Writeroom is very functional, although it could have some additional functions. Scrivener holds real potential, but my workhorse will remain Pages and Keynote.

  14. One very important problem with Microsoft Office 2008. It’s a Microsoft software product. I had Office 2004 installed for a few weeks on my Mac Pro. Then I got an update notice from Microsoft that there were vulnerabilities in Office that could allow a malicious hacker access to my computer. Basically the same kind of crap messages you get on Windows.

    Why do I want to allow Microsoft to create bugs that will allow malicious hackers into my Mac.

    I use NeoOffice when I need an Office tool. Mostly I use NeoOffice’s spreadsheet.

    I don’t care how “good” Office 2008 looks, it’s going to have a bunch of vulnerabilities that I don’t want anywhere near my Mac.

    I have found iLife to look interesting for what it has so far. I hope they manage to get a decent spreadsheet program by iLife ’07.

  15. iWork- love it- use it exclusively along with FileMaker but would love to see it have a spreadsheet

    MS Office- really dislike it- much harder (and LOTS less fun) to use so no thanks to that particular over priced package.

  16. daveleaz

    As a professional Macintosh/Microsoft Engineer, I have had many years of installing, using and maintaining both Microsoft and Apple products. The key here is productivity. Here iWork reigns supreme. I use it 95% of the time myself. If you need to open or edit a Word document, use TextEdit – it can open, edit and save Word docs and is more compatible than any version of Word itself!

  17. It’s nice to hear that iWork holds such a coveted place in the hearts of many of you. Since I’m in medicine, the creative aspect of iWork unfortunately doesn’t effect much of what I do.

    I think the devil may be in the details for M$ Office. If Office 2008 isn’t backward compatible and efficient in converting older file types, it may just end up being a disaster.

    I haven’t used NeoOffice in a while either, mostly due to the slow load times.

  18. macminiman

    I really like having the New and Save icons on my Word toolbar– and use them all the time!

    I often have several document open at a time– and will create a New one and use text from the others–real multi-tasking. And the Save icon is a snap– and faster than menu hunting.

    Just downloaded NeoOffice’s latest. Have they solved the slow start up time? It really took forever in earlier versions. There were some other features that were clunky. I guess I’ll find out soon enough what improvements have been made.

  19. Jan Korbel

    I don’t know about you guys but for me the UI is so glassy that I would have to weare sunglasses using it…
    You know, they take the cherry on the top and think that by putting it all over the cake, they would make it better.

  20. Scottie Biddle

    As Much as I love Pages and can do a whole bunch with it, Word is what I’m used to. As a recent switcher I can see that Pages is aimed at presentation and Word is focused on th material you’re typing. Also, the Mac version of Word is much better than Office 2003, even in Rosetta. For school, all formatting instructions are given for Word. I really ahte when people say “A Mac? You can’t do anything on a Mac!” or like my music teacher “Apple sucks!” (I was explaning the GarageBand had notation capability). I cannot wait for Office 2008 and Universal Office!

  21. Funny, we in my company are going the other direction. Our mantra this year is, “better deliverables in less time.” And from our experience, that means ditching Word and Powerpoint and doing more with Keynote and Pages. The latter two tools just deliver better and more professional results faster than the Microsoft ones. Oh, you can do everything that Apple’s products do and more in Office — you’ll just tear your hair out getting there.

    Just my two cents, but I find myself doing more thinking and less cursing with the Apple products. And I’m using their export functions regularly now to deliver PowerPoint and Word docs. Even with the little bits of cleanup required, I’m finding myself ahead of the game time and quality wise. Office 2008 is going to have a high bar to clear. Your mileage may vary.

  22. Maybe it’s just me, but has anyone, EVER used the M$ toolbar buttons for New, Save, Undo, and Redo? Why do these buttons need to be on a modern, revamped interface. Seriously, who looks at a document they’re working on and says to themselves “you know, what I really want to do while editing THIS document is start a new, unrelated blank one.” Sorry, it’s a pet peeve of mine.

    Have to agree with denny in that M$ Office simply doesn’t fit my needs (with the exception of Excel – which I would gladly dump if someone would another usable spreadsheet app, and not just a 1:1 copy). Hopefully, the increased competition will spur Apple to do more with iWork (which does fit my needs).

  23. I got a personal demo of some of Office 2008 from MS, and as I said on TUAW, it looks good. Office has always crushed iWork in terms of features, and now I think MS is finally realized that they need to make those features easy to access.

    Office 2007 (for Windows) is the best Office app ever, and I think the Mac version will be even better.

  24. I;m sorry to say that NeoOffice, (the mac port of, is my Office. I never bothered with iWork, removed it from each of my Macs as soon as I got them. NeoOffice has a price I like, (free), and although it is in Beta stage, I have found it to be more than stable enough for everyday use. And Office 2008’s big selling point of OpenXML format is due to be integrated into NeoOffice, (and its big brother OpenOffice), by late February. Sorry Microsoft, OpenSource beat Internet Explorer with Firefox, and now Office is gonna be shot down too.

  25. I have to say… it looks great from the screenshots. However, using it may be another story.

    I abandoned Office for three reasons. 1. No need for Entourage… much prefer iCal, Mail, and Spotlight as my project management. 2. Keynote is fantastic. Even if PP improves I’m not moving away from Keynote. 3. I tend to do small, graphically rich documents and Word bogs down as soon as I start adding lots of graphics. I rarely need to share documents for collaboration and don’t need most of what Word offers. I hope this next version is better but I’m far too happy with iWork to switch back.