Microsoft Office VS. iWork By Josh Blagden | JB - Mac Help | JBlagden

Microsoft Office VS. iWork                                             By Josh Blagden

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If you’re only going to be sharing your documents with with friends or family (in which case formatting loss isn’t a big issue) or if you’re only going to be sending documents to fellow Mac users, iWork will likely be perfect for you. However, for school and work you’ll definitely want to be able to create documents that you can share with Windows users without having to convert them to the Microsoft Office format(and lose some formatting*), then you can buy Microsoft Office for Mac**.

Or, if you don’t need to create documents which are automatically compatible with Microsoft Office and you want a program which is easier to use than Microsoft office (and also easier on your wallet), then you should get iWork.

Another good option is LibreOffice. It allows you to create and work with Microsoft Office files natively, without any conversions or formatting loss. It does this without costing you a single cent. If you don’t mind the extra bit of startup time, which is due to it being written in Java, it’s a great budget solution for having full compatibility with Microsoft Office.

One important determining factor is the price. Microsoft Office for Mac(sans Outlook and Publisher) costs $150, while iWork costs $60 for the whole suite. To get Outlook, you have to spend an extra $80 for Microsoft Office Home and Business because a few years ago, Microsoft started selling them separately so they could make more money from selling Microsoft Office Home and Student without those two programs while charging $100 for each. Essentially, that’s $230 for Microsoft Office. On a Mac you can save yourself that $170 because Apple includes Mail, Contacts and Calendar with the operating system and Pages has the functionality of Publisher built-in - specifically in Page Layout Mode, which unfortunately is only available in Pages ‘09. Also, Numbers is Apple’s equivalent˚ to Excel and Keynote is the Apple equivalent of Keynote.

Another concern may be accessibility  You might want to be able to edit your documents when you’re away from your computer without paying $100 a year for Office 365. iWork now offers a great way to do that on, which is like Apple’s version of Google Drive(AKA Google Docs),even for collaboration with Windows users. The only problem with iWork in iCloud is that it doesn't yet support all of Keynote's  transitions and effects. But for Pages and Numbers documents, it's very good. It works on pretty much any computer and in all of the major web browsers, which are Safari, Google Chrome and Microsoft Explorer. If you’re going to use LibreOffice, you could store your documents on a flash drive or in “the cloud”.

Often, the most important concern is the format. As much as like iWork, it doesn’t work well with Microsoft Office because it uses a different format. You can convert iWork documents to Microsoft Office format, but formatting is often lost and effects are usually removed from Keynote presentations. If you need an office suite for school or work, you really should go with either LibreOffice or Microsoft Office because Microsoft Office the standard office suite in every industry. Don’t get me wrong, I prefer iWork, but it simply isn’t practical in a world where the Microsoft Office format is the standard format everywhere.

* This may have changed in the new version of iWork. I haven’t had a need to find out if it has changed

** You can either buy Microsoft Office once for $150 or Office 365 for an annual fee

˚By equivalent, I mean that iWork essentially takes the place of Microsoft Office. However, iWork uses different file formats than Office. For instance, you will not be able to open a Keynote file on a Windows PC, rather, you’ll have to export it as a Quicktime video or a Powerpoint presentation, at which point you would have been better off using LibreOffice instead

© Joshua Blagden & Justin Barczak 2013-2015
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