Blog Post

iWork ’09 No Competition for Mac Office 2011

Stay on Top of Enterprise Technology Trends

Get updates impacting your industry from our GigaOm Research Community
Join the Community!

The new Mac Office 2011 (s msft), currently in development, will easily best iWork ’09, and with every feature update demonstrates just how far behind iWork (s aapl) has fallen. The latest video preview only increases the value gap between the two office suites.

While the feature tease is minimal, the video shows off Sparklines, in-cell mini-graphs of visual data straight from Excel 2010 for Windows, as well as new PivotTable report designs and layouts. Office-wide, users will now have the ability to do “basic photo editing,” with options like color correction, as well as more advanced ones like background removal, but that’s the small stuff.

The big deal is Mac Office 2011 touts a level of compatibility with Office for Windows “that’s never been achieved before,” from the user-interface Ribbon of Office for Windows to the nuts and bolts of cross-platform document and data sharing. In Word, that means requiring pages printed in Word for the Mac and Windows be identical on paper. In Excel, arguably the biggest compatibility effort was the restoration of Visual Basic, version 6.5, same as the Windows version. Entourage has been replaced with Outlook and full support for Exchange. PowerPoint, well, with the exception of better cross-platform document compatibility, PowerPoint still looks to suck compared to the ease-of-use and pretty slides of Keynote.

Unfortunately, that hardly makes up for the rest of iWork for the Mac. Numbers, Pages, and Keynote are far less compatible when exporting in Microsoft Office formats, and none are as feature-replete. Worse, Pages, and especially Numbers, struggle with large documents. The problem with iWork is that it badly needs updating, but there is no guarantee of that happening this year, unlike Mac Office.

While it’s true iWork for the iPad was released this year, it, like OS X, is languishing in favor of iOS. iWork for the Mac is quickly approaching years between updates. While it’s fair to say that having the iWork team pivot to produce an iPad version is responsible for the dearth of updates, what’s the excuse for iWork.com?

Back in January 2009, when iWork ’09 debuted, a lot was made of the iWork.com beta, which let people view and share, but not edit documents. Eighteen months later, it’s still a beta, and you still can’t edit documents. Even worse, Apple has thus far failed to leverage iWork.com as the logical way to seamlessly synchronize documents between the iPad and Mac. Even the rumored iWork update is out of date, the most recent being “iWork ’10 for Dummies” placeholders being seen in at sites like Amazon France with three months left in the year.

Without an update to compete against Mac Office 2011, that leaves price as iWorks ’09’s best feature, $79 retail, $49 with the purchase of a new Mac. However, even on price Mac Office is competing better than ever before at $119 for the Student Edition, which includes Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, and $199 for the Home and Office Edition that adds Outlook.

There’s a reason Mac Business Unit PR types can brag that Mac Office is on about 70 percent of Macs (a phenomenal adoption rate) and one that would only be beat by Office for the iPad. Please.

Related GigaOM Pro Research: Web Worker Survey 2010 (subscription req’d)

88 Responses to “iWork ’09 No Competition for Mac Office 2011”

  1. Mac pwns Windows at everything except iWork. iWork VS Mac Office 2011: Mac Office wins. I love Apple, don’t get me wrong. But I tried Word for Mac, and I was amazed at all the features it had compared to Pages. It is now my primary word processing program.

    • I’m not quite sure why all the commotion about these two sets of programs; Pages imports and exports .doc and .docx without blinking; same respectively with Numbers/Excel and Keynote/PowerPoint extensions. I have both Office:Mac ’11 and iWork ’11, and I use them for different things. If I want more polished, more powerful, more intuitive, I go with iWork. If I want simple word processing without the polish, I hit Word. I don’t even bother with PP or EXC because they’re not as powerful, versatile, or polished as their Apple counterparts. I may occasionally need them to open someone’s clunkier older Windows file, but other than that, no need.

      My gripe with Apple actually has to do with the fact that they used to ship all their ‘puters with a word processing suite (remember AppleWorks?), but now they’re almost as stingy as “pc” world and only provide Text Edit.

  2. I am so furious with iWorks!!! Don’t know where to begin, nd shouting at a wall anyway!! OMG! had NO idea. When I asked–over and over–about how my 100’s+100’s of old Office files would work and look on this iWorks, I was assured all would be “fine”. That’ where I’m speechless. It’s SO NOT ‘fine’!! EVERYTHING about it sucks right at this moment–even the finder. I just wish I had my old Word back. But am told it will not work with 10.6. And don’t want to waste anymore time here–as it angers me that MAC has made these stupid assumptions. Just as the mouse pad no longer has the dual function. Now you have to use the “enter” key or go up and move the cursor to the address bar…… I can not spell the expressions of my angst!! I’m otta here!

  3. What a shame the article doesn’t make mention of the fact that, as with most Microsoft applications, not everything “works” as it should; for instance the “Save As” function in Outlook is greyed out & is unable to be accessed