iWork and Office

by Giles Turnbull

You can buy iWork now, and no doubt thousands of people are doing just that.

The important thing to remember is that iWork is not competing with Microsoft Office. Sure, there are similar features, and admittedly Keynote does compete more directly with Powerpoint.

But iWork is not an office productivity suite, nor is it intended to be. There used to be some heated arguments about this; some people said Apple was working on a word processor to compete with Word; others said such a move would annoy Microsoft, and Apple couldn't afford to lose Office:mac.

With hindsight, we can see that both of these were simplistic views. Apple has created Pages, and it does process words, but it's not going to compete with Word. It's a consumer-level desktop publishing app; it's iMovie for paper. It means ordinary people can make spectacular printed documents.

Microsoft's Apple Business Unit has invested too much in Office:mac to give up just because Pages has come along. They certainly don't consider it a competing app, either. It simply doesn't offer anything like the feature set found in Word; look at the screenshots at Apple-x.net and you'll see what I mean.

And work is well underway on a new version of Office, one that uses the new technologies in Tiger. Microsoft is quite happy to tell us that.

Got your copy of iWork installed yet?


2005-01-23 03:55:03
I don't think it matters
No, iWork isn't a competitor to Office. If for no other reason than there's no Excel analog in iWork.

But, comparing Pages and Word, while Pages certainly doesn't have the feature set of Word that, in my opinion, is a good thing. This isn't a rant against feature bloat. Word does have quite a number of nifty features, for insance the new Outline/Notebook/Whatchamacallit in 2004. But, it's that huge feature list that for many people makes Pages the better choice.

Where you can say Word is feature rich Pages is slim. Not in an anorexic way, in a healthy way. There are no features to get in the way of me "just writing".

I'm certain that there are many people that will never leave Word and they have their reasons and I respect them but for me, and I imagine for a number of other people, Pages fits the bill perfectly.

I don't think that Apple set out to make a Word Killer, that's obvious. I think they set out to make a program that lets me write. Maybe some people need help making a list but I don't. Perhaps some have a great deal of trouble with grammar but I'm fine, I don't need squiggly lines telling me I write in a passive voice.

Pages fits in to a place next to Word, above Text Edit and below InDesign, right where I want to be.

2005-01-23 05:00:14
WP vs. DTP
Maybe the problem is that folks are trying too hard to place Pages in either one category or the other? There's another possibility, however: that Pages is designed to cover and - more importantly - *combine* the consumer end of both.


i.e. In a professional workflow, there's two separate processes to producing finished documents: content is produced using one set of tools and presented using another, often by completely different people working in separate locations at different times.

Your Aunt Millie neither knows nor cares about any of this, however: from her consumer point of view there's absolutely no distinction between generating content (typing it in) and presenting it (making it look nice on the page). Everything happens in the one place at the one time: on the screen in front of her.

Before Pages, Aunt Millie might be doing entry, editing and presentation using separate tools, but it's far more likely she's trying to do the whole lot in a single app: thus she's doing (bad) page layout while entering and editing text in AppleWorks, or (bad) text entry and editing while laying out in MS Publisher. Professional purists may be horrified by such an approach, but Aunt Millie doesn't want, need or see the point of having an enforced separation between these different tasks, because as far as she's concerned there *is no difference*.

More importantly, telling Aunt Millie that she's 'doing it wrong' or trying to impose a 'right way' on her will just honk her off. She's been producing weekly church newsletters since you were in short pants, and you're not so big that she can't still put you over her knee and teach you some manners if you're going to get lippy.

Therefore, given Aunt Millie's particular requirements (i.e. 'wants' and 'needs') Pages simply does the sensible thing: eliminate the distinction between entry and layout, giving Aunt Millie a *genuine one-stop solution* that fits her needs far better than her earlier ersatz alternatives. Perhaps what's really remarkable about Pages is that it's taken this long for someone to think of doing it... ;)


2005-01-23 10:07:35
I think it competes with Word... In a way.
I think there are a lot of Mac users, particularly home users and families, that need only a small featureset of what Word does, but up until now, Word was the only choice if they needed something more sophisticated than TextEdit (which most people do).

So while it's not true to that Apple is directly competing with Word, that's quite difficult to do because Word is made for so many different target markets that it competes in one way or another with a lot of software. Apple simply focused on the needs of a couple specific target markets and made a product which beats Word in those markets. I wouldn't be surprised if Pages 2.0 gives more people a reason to switch from Word.

What I hope is that in the end, iWork will make Microsoft work harder to capture the Mac market. The Mac BU has done some great things with Office, but in areas like performance I think they could do quite a bit more, and I think a program like Pages that is faster and easy to use, and suitable for maybe 10-20% of their market on Mac, might make them think harder about doing just that. :)

2005-01-23 10:12:54
Wither AppleWorks? I doubt it.

I've heard from at least one source the iWork is to be a replacement for AppleWorks. Apple's own specs say it can import AppleWorks documents, but I suppose it would be for further document processing and/or inclusion with documents from other sources. Also, as another reader mentioned, there is no spreadsheet or simple database component in iWork. Therefore, it seems that AppleWorks will be with us for a while yet. However, there are alternatives such as OpenOffice.org, NeoOffice/J, ThinkFree Office and the aforementioned Microsoft Office:mac.

2005-01-24 09:17:56
Wither AppleWorks? I doubt it.
I've heard from at least one source the iWork is to be a replacement for AppleWorks.

Would that source by Steve Jobs 1 hour, ten minutes and 42 seconds into the Quicktime file of the keynote?