Is Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac Still Needed?

by Todd Ogasawara

I have Microsoft Office 2004 for Mac on my MacBook. It doesn't read or write Microsoft Office 2007's native OOXML files. Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac won't be out until January 2008. It won't support Office macros. I don't use Entourage. So, that means all I really use is Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.

Apple iWork '08 is available now and can read/write Office 2007 files. It has a word processor, spreadsheet, and presentation app. It costs $79. I don't think Office for Mac 2008 for Mac will be $79 (will it come in a bazillion versions like Office for Windows?). I've never used iWork but will guess it doesn't support macros (big deal since Office won't either).

Seems like a good time for me to switch to iWorks. What about other current Office 2004 users? Will you wait until January to upgrade to 2008 or switch to iWorks '08 now?


2007-08-12 12:04:46
Correction; iWork 08 can read OOXML files; it cannot save to this format. Interestingly, once you try the "right" sample files, it performs the conversion well. Better, in fact, than Microsoft's own Converter.
Mike C.
2007-08-12 12:17:58
You could just try iWork and decide on your own whether it will fit your needs.

I like that they finally added a spreadsheet. I could use TextEdit for my rudimentary typing needs.

2007-08-12 12:18:17
I own (but no longer use) office 2004, but for me NeoOffice does enough of what I need to do to be my preference, plus it's free software. So I guess i'm saying no to both office for mac 2008 as well as iWorks.

2007-08-12 12:30:50
Unless Apple gave this new version of Pages a MAJOR performance overhaul - I'll be using Word 2004 and most likely, Word 2008. Pages gets very sluggish far too quickly.

I tried to switch over during this year, and found that both Keynote and Pages had beautiful templates - but that's about it.

Maybe I wasn't patient enough with them to learn how to really get the most out of their interfaces, but there were just too many times when I found myself thinking ... "I know how to do this in Word - I know how to do this in PowerPoint" and then eventually, I got sick of thinking "Okay, the spinning beach-ball will go away in about a minute... then I can drop in the next 300 dpi graphic ... then, a few minutes later when the beach-ball is gone, I can resize it ... then, I'll save the document"

2007-08-12 12:59:15
hi i own office 2004 as well as iwork...
i started using pages of and on.. it took two weeks for pages to become my choice of word processor.... though pages does not have all the features ms word does but for 95% of the times it is sufficient... and pages has become more feature complete with 08.. but i think it will take one or more upgrades but i think Microsoft really needs to get its act together because we have seen how comfortably apple can port their apps to windows and i can see iwork give ms office a real run for its money in a couple of years....
i wish apple would put "save as" option for ms office doc types rather than export
Sherm Pendley
2007-08-12 13:13:18
Will Pages '08 be able to keep a list of references, track which ones I've cited in my paper, and generate an APA-format bibliography for them? Windows Office '07 can do that, and assuming that feature makes it into Mac Office '08, it will be the killer feature for me.

Yes, I know about LaTeX and BibTeX, and to be honest I'd rather be using them, but they produce .pdf output and my school requires .doc files. :-(

Andreas Bachofen
2007-08-12 13:25:55
I think the worst thing in Pages is the TOC feature. I am not even able to produce a TOC with different indent levels, after I update the TOC the indent level of all the chapters and subchapters are on level 1 again. This annoys me since version 1.0 and I have no idea why they don't fix it.
They just have to do this little thing and they have me with iWork, but without it I cannot produce papers with readable TOCs.
Kyle Johnson
2007-08-12 13:31:15
I use NeoOffice for basically everything I do now, and I'm looking forward to an actual Aqua port of Open Office. Keynote is worth the money if you do alot of presentations (the OO presentation tool is butt ugly), but other than that I'd rather support open source software than pay either MS or Apple.
2007-08-12 13:37:28
I removed MS Office from my system a couple days ago, after installing and exploring iWork 08. A usable spreadsheet and track changes in Pages were the final pieces to the puzzle for me. I still use LaTeX for any serious word processing tasks, but as a scientist, I still need a spreadsheet from time to time, and I need to review documents with change tracking. NeoOffice is still an unusable, monolithic application, in my view; I want something that fires up quickly and doesnt use a ton of resources. iWork appears to be the appropriate solution for me.
2007-08-12 14:55:09
If only Numbers would have supported database access through SQL. This is critical for most businesses that want to extract data from internal systems to a spreadsheet for reporting and what-if analysis. We will stick with 2004 for now and continue to evaluate NeoOffice for the moment.
2007-08-12 15:41:29
I am no longer planning to upgrade to the new version of office. I've used iWork for the past couple of days and Pages easilly beats Word and Numbers is better looking than Excel and can easily handle the types of spreadsheets I have a need for. Keynote has always been an easy replacement for PPT.
2007-08-12 15:51:26
I don't think it has to be an either or decision for most people. I use both and plan to continue to use both. I did not upgrade to iWork '06 because I didn't think it offered enough of an improvement to justify the upgrade. However, I have been waiting for iWork '08 for months now and it looks like it is going to be worth the wait. I think that with this new release I may begin using iWork more than Office but I will still have a need for Office for certain items.
2007-08-12 17:02:09
Sherm Pendley: latex2rtf works well for that purpose, only problem being you can't really play word doc ping-pong with a non-latex user transparrently.
2007-08-12 17:22:22
IME latex2rtf fails miserably when you confront it with something like the APA bibliography style. For that matter, I don't know if anything in the market reliably handles all of APA without tweaking your database entries.

I've already pretty much switched all my my personal work to Mellel or Goggle Docs myself, but I'm not in a position where I have to collaborate with people who use Word.

2007-08-12 18:27:27
I have made the exact decision you describe. I bought the new iLife yesterday. I'm tired of giving money to MS just because that's what everyone else is using. I'll take Keynote over Powerpoint any day already. I kinda feel the same way I felt when I first switched to mac from win. (a little nervous, but annoyed enough to give it a shot.) I hope my iLife switch is as positive as the mac/pc switch.

I agree with keeping both apps, like Frank said. I think of it the same way as when I used to keep bootcamp on my mac. Now I keep a small Parallels virtual drive on my MBPro just in case, but never use it.

Matt S.
2007-08-12 20:22:27
Although I've been a dedicated Office user through 2004 Pro version (the one with Virtual PC), I suspect that I'll be ditching Office as soon as I get a MacPro (I have a MacBook but I'm talking about replacing my desktop machine.) Between various open source software (such as Open Office) and virtualization software titles to run Windows on an Intel Mac, or Boot Camp, and iWorks, iCal, Address Book and Apple Mail, I'll ditch Office 2004, probably won't buy 2008 and run the PC versions of Office that my wife has to run because of her work.)

Now, if Intuit ever came out with Quicken Home and Business for Mac that looks like and runs exactly as it does on the PC (instead of the God-awful pice of crap they call QuickBooks Mac), I'd be in hog-heaven.

2007-08-12 21:46:23
In my experience it is something of a mixed bag when comparing iWork to office, but to run down the line:

Pages is a wonderful consumer level layout program. When it comes to consumer level graphic design there is really nothing on the market that even comes close to competing, certainly not Publisher. Now, in terms of word processing, it is a different story. Pages is an entirely suitable word processor, especially for my fairly limited needs, but Word seems to have a lot of specialized features that many different niche groups use frequently, and for this and other reasons probably beats Pages as a Word Processor. That said, if your uses are anything like mine, Pages is more than suitable and handle what you need rather elegantly.

Keynote is better than Powerpoint. Like really, there is no point in even debating this. You won't find a single review that says otherwise.

As for Numbers. I have not gotten the new iWork, at least not yet, so I haven't used. I also have next to no use for spreadsheets, so I have no experience with Excel worth sharing. My impression is that similar to Word vs. Pages (for word processing), Excel is much more feature rich and powerful but if Numbers meets your needs, it will provide a more streamlined and elegant experience.

That's my two cents anyway.

2007-08-12 21:55:16
I switched to Apple computers to get away from the money-hog Microsoft a couple years ago but still got Office:Mac because I pretty much needed it. I downloaded the iWork 08 trial the other day and played around with it and decided that I was very happy with it overall. Yes, I know that it's not as feature complete as Office is but it does most everything thats important to me. I will be buying iWork 08 within the next couple weeks and after that, I see Office:Mac 2004 going bye bye on my computer. I don't really want to drop a few hundred dollars on a Microsoft program when I can get one from Apple that can do most the same thing for $80 and I like it better.
Carl Stuben
2007-08-12 22:23:51
Todd, you're information is incorrect. Office 2008 totally supports macros. The Macintosh version is fully automatable using Automator and AppleScript. The entire suite: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc. is completely scriptable. In iWork, on the other hand, only Pages has robust scripting and the new Numbers has absolutely none -- zero, nada, none. I guess Apple thinks no one wants to use macros with a spreadsheet!
2007-08-12 23:30:54
I bought iWork 08 at the weekend and therefore won't be upgrading Office:mac. I already had Office 2007 and I will be using this for work (maximum compatibility) but when I don't need all the features of Word/Excel then it looks like iWork will do what I need for a fraction of the price that Office:mac costs. Up until the delay of Office:mac and the release of iWork 08 I was still planning to buy Office:mac for a native application suite that covered what I needed - Apple has beaten Microsoft to the punch on this one.
Todd Ogasawara
2007-08-12 23:36:49
Carl Stuben: I think we are both correct and I need to clarify my statement. Office 2008 for Mac will not support Office VBA Macros (as 2004 does). So, it is unable to use macros developed for Office 2003/2007.
Alexander W
2007-08-13 05:56:37

No offence but are you actually serious? Do you not do any kind of serious work in Word or Excel?


I really hope the MacBU don't acknowledge comments like these.

Robert Pritchett
2007-08-13 06:27:33
I bought the family pack of iWork '08 and it arrived Saturday. I have been quite pleased with the Keynote functionality and made an attempt to generate a YouTube video of a presentation I will be giving later this week (posted online last night).

I didn't realize that the "Record" function picks up all noise through the iMac mic, so be careful when "recording"! Mouse clicks, keyboard noises and sneezing - oh my!

2007-08-13 07:50:59
While I always want native OS X software, does it make sense anymore? Let's say I want Office. If I go with a PC version, I can get the home version for $150. So let's add this up:

VMWare ($40 currently)
XP Home ($200)
Office 2007 Home ($150)

So, for $390, I have Office, plus a copy of Windows (ick, but sometimes necessary)

Now, the mac version of Office has a student version, but NOT a home version so assuming the same pricing structure for Office 2008, a new copy of office would be $299 at amazon. A little cheaper, but if you already have a copy of Windows and virtualization software, the Windows version would be 1/2 the cost of the mac version. Since this is software most people here say they would only use occassionally, wouldn't the PC version make more sense? And if you don't want Windows, I think the CrossOver software will run Office 2007 eliminating Windows and virtualization software for on $60. That brings the cost down to $150 + $60 or only $210.

Todd Ogasawara
2007-08-13 09:15:55
Re: CrossOver Mac. Its list of compatible products does not list Office 2007 applications and older Office apps such as Excel 2003 are listed at a Bronze support level. When I tried CrossOver Mac on a MacBook, I couldn't get much to run including Gold supported apps (I had a copy of Office 2000 to test with it).
2007-08-13 09:37:24
NeoOffice seems to be a worthy (free) contender for the Office arena. I spend most of my day in Terminal and writing code, so I suppose it depends on how much time one spends in Office type documents.
2007-08-13 11:53:42
I used office for mac because i sometimes need the full excel power. This means lot of VB Macros data lookup, etc.

After Parallels came out, I started using Excel for Windows, because I have to work as well in windows and osx enviroments. Beeing used to the Windows Keys shortcuts and the poor rosetta performance, i choose the windows version.

Word and Power Point were seldomly use, except of writing ocassionally letters. Word annoyed me, because I could not drag & drop addresses.

I tried IWork and it seems to fit my needs. Fast on MacBookPro, easy to use.
INumbers although not totally perfect, has a fantatistic concept, using tables as objects inside a page. This is nce for my little home made sheets.

So, as soon as IWork will fix the localization problems, ill remove Office for mac, especially since it it much slower running in rosetta on my mac, than IWOrk / Office in Parallels. Furthermore the dropped macro support for mac, will give offie the rest. And if I need Pivot Tables, Macros, etc Ill use Excel for Windows

2007-08-13 15:12:32
I have been using Neo Office for several years now, however i did download the trial version of iWork 08. I was sold when i open a power point file, keynote beat Neo Office hands down. I'm still playing with it, but i think i'll be switching soon.

2007-08-13 15:53:17
Todd, for macros there's always AppleScript. I wouldn't say you could use it as a drop-in replacement for Office (if you want that, go for NeoOffice or StarOffice) - it's more aimed at a different class of user. Pages is more DTP-lite (think MS Publisher rather than Word). In fact the new version offers a whole separate WP-mode. I see it more as a program for producing nice documents. Which I think Apple do too.

TextEdit will honestly do a LOT of what you need in a basic WP, but there are other native Mac WP (Mellel being the most often recommended) which I would guess beat Word, in terms of focusing on being Word processors, rather than integrated Office suites, etc.

I'd honestly say the only reason to get iWork is Keynote. with the other two programs as an adjunct (Numbers to feed information in, and Pages to layout secondary documentation).

Steve - I'm guessing more RAM. I've never noticed Pages was a CPU hog, but if you're bringing in lots of large images I'm guessing you're getting a lot of paging. I've got 2Gb now, and the beach ball is very rarely seen (and when it is I usually find it's because something has been leaking memory for a few days).

2007-08-14 01:15:17
*** I'd rather support open source software than pay either MS or Apple. ***
So I guess that by *support* you mean donating money to different OSS projects, or helping in the development process, right? Or you are just choosing OSS because it is for free (as in beer)?

*** I guess Apple thinks no one wants to use macros with a spreadsheet! ***
OK, I admit I am not a pro user in Excel but, seriously, I have seen real Frankensteins made with Excel. I have seen people developing mini applications in Excel as if it was a real development environment (it is not, it is inefficient, difficult to debug and not easily transferred to other platforms; just move to a different version of Windows with different Office version...). I have even seen (too many) people using Excel for project management... Oh my!

*** No offence but are you actually serious? Do you not do any kind of serious work in Word or Excel? ***
Well, for serious writting, I think you would use LaTeX instead of Word. For serious DTP you would use QuarkXPress ir the like, instead of Word. For serious statistics you would use MiniTab or the like, instead of Excel. For serious data-driven application development, you would use anything else but a spreadsheet application!

2007-08-14 07:47:49
I got a powerbook G4 with OSX 10.3.9 and iWork 2008 unfortunately can only run on OSX 10.4 or later. I have MS office for Mac 2004. So I will not be switching to iWork 2008 even if it is better than MS Office for mac 2004. No choice.
David Orriss Jr
2007-08-14 14:56:45
I would love to use iWork, but I still need Entourage to connect to my company's Exchange Server.. it's nicer for dealing with email than using the Exchange Webmail system. Anyone got an open-source replacement for that..? ;)
2007-08-15 06:36:36
***I would love to use iWork, but I still need Entourage to connect to my
***company's Exchange Server.. it's nicer for dealing with email than
***using the Exchange Webmail system. Anyone got an open-source replacement for that..? ;)

There Evolution by Novell but I haven't had luck getting it to run properly.

2007-08-16 14:36:41
kirks: I had no problems with a dcu bibliography style which as far as I can see is apalike enough. (scratch the surface of these things and you'll see that bibliography style is 25% guideline, 75% hot air imo).
2007-08-22 10:38:52
> I would love to use iWork, but I still need Entourage to connect to my company's Exchange Server..

Talk the server folk into switching on IMAP and then use (or whatever you happen to like to read email in).

Jacob Wegelin
2007-08-29 07:32:50
If I copy text from gvim I am unable to paste it into MS Word 2004 for Mac. I can paste it into the command line (Terminal) or into the Save As dialog box in Preview, but not into a Word document. In iWork '08 can one copy text from gvim into a document? And why cannot one do this in MS Word 2004 for Mac? (One can do it in Word for Windows.)
Ben Little
2007-08-30 14:55:09
I have never enjoyed Microsoft products on my Mac. Since iWork '08 came out I decided to try using Pages instead of Microsoft Word. I currently have nothing to do Microsoft products on my computer anymore, and I dont miss it at all. Only negative for me. Pages native file doesn't import to Adobe InDesign, but I can always export to a .doc. Minor inconvience, but not a big enough negative to go back to Microsoft. It makes me smile to know that I am not going to be giving any more money to Gates' glitchy Mac programs ever again.
John F.
2007-09-10 14:34:57
There's only ONE thing that really keeps me from switching (and, though I use Entourage, i think I'd be fine with a Mail/Calendar/Address Book combo)... and that's the Notebook Layout View feature in 2004. I find it extremely useful for organizing large documents, and there's nothing quite like it in Pages. (Meanwhile, Numbers already crushes Excel... and Powerpoint can't even hold a candle to Keynote. I only use Powerpoint that to check my Keynote PPT exports before I send them to PC users).
2007-09-25 08:27:13
If your work involved regularly exchanging files back and forth with Windows users, as for example using track changes, you will find Pages is not 100% compatible with Windows. When it comes to tracking changes, I've found bugs, and close doesn't count. Also the minor formatting pecularities add up in the exchange back and forth, such as pagination. Not yet!
2007-09-29 21:30:15
Mac Mail is working fine with the MS exchange mail server. It does not have to be Entourage.
2007-11-21 14:51:45
Sorry if this is off topic, I am a little desperate. Is there anyone on this thread who can tell me (or knows of a good source for this information) the ugly details about the differences between MS Word for PC and for Mac? I am a copywriter (and MS Word power user) and would like to switch to Mac, but ALL of my clients use PCs and MS Word files.
Mae Vaughan
2007-12-01 07:51:29
Last night I was pleasantly surprised to find iWorks 08 opening a PPT 2007 document that I forgot to save in compatible mode. I was talked into purchasing the new iWorks by the Apple rep when purchasing my new computer and I am glad I did! Amazing!. Just to note, Microsoft has a new app that will convert the Office 2007 to work with Office 2004.
2008-02-13 21:50:13
After several weeks of working with inadequate documentation, it seems that Pages'08 is actually a light desktop publishing program, which can be used for casual, limited word processing. Anyone who has needed to explore the depths of Word or Excel will probably not be satisfied with the resources of Pages'08 or Numbers'08.

In reply to the post asking for "the ugly details about the differences between MS Word for PC and for Mac? I am a copywriter (and MS Word power user) and would like to switch to Mac, but ALL of my clients use PCs and MS Word files"- - - I can report the following:

I switched to Mac from PC, and have found that all my Word and Excel files were completely interchangeable. Files written on Mac or PC seem to be right at home on the other platform. One caution, however: be sure to set prefs on the Mac to include the 3-letter file extension with all documents, and remember that if you use a font which does not exist on the other computer (Mac or Windows), you may need to save your creation as .pdf before sending. Doing that on a Mac is very easy and straight-forward, without additional software.

Until there is a "Missing Manual" published for Office 2008 for Mac, containing information that persuades me that I need to "upgrade", I would not consider removing Office 2004 from my computers.

2008-04-11 00:35:15
Here's a useful comparison:
2008-06-17 00:57:44
do I need windows to run ms office on a mac?
2008-07-11 10:17:38
I have just purchased a new MAC and Word 2008 (for MAC). I need to find a program to help with APA 5th edition. Does anyone have any ideas where I can purchase software? Everything I have found so far doens't work with the 2008 Mac/Word software?
2008-08-04 05:57:22
For all of those who moves to Mac and are heavy users of MS Excel 2003 just like myself. Save you time, skip iWork'08 at least the Numbers part. It just won't work for your Excel spreadsheets once you use formulas and grouping heavily.