Office 2008 for Mac: not worth your money

25Apr08

TB Tech Blog - Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac

When first buying my Mac, I was still something of an Apple beginner. So Microsoft Office for Mac (2004 at that stage) looked very enticing. Pity it was only designed for PowerPC processors, and therefore had to run through Rosetta, the Apple technology that ‘translated’ PowerPC-native apps into something an Intel processor could read. And it was also a pity that Microsoft wouldn’t release a special upgrade for Apple’s transition to Intel processors.

So, sick of massive waiting times, and the incessant 1-or-2 second delay when typing something, I turned to Apple’s iWork program — iWork ’08, release in 2007, has been a massive improvement over Office for Mac 2004, and I have found its compatibility with common Word (.doc, and even .docx), Excel (.xls) and PowerPoint (.ppt, .pps) filetypes to be quite outstanding.

Of course, iWork ’08 contains much of Apple’s design know-how, and like most Apple software, it’s quick to use and it gets the job done easily.

However it has some new competition in the form of Microsoft’s new Office for Mac 2008. It’s an update (about time, too) to OFM 2004, and, as its predecessor did, it will lure new Mac users into thinking that, at least at first, it is the only product that will satisfy their document-creating needs.

Of course in time they will (hopefully) discover that little folder in Applications containing the 30-day test drive of iWork, but, at that first Mac purchase, that’s an extra ~A$250 to be spent on a suite that, is really bettered by an A$129 product.

Simply put, I don’t understand how Microsoft Office for Mac 2008 could make so little a difference to OFM 2004.

First of all, I would have expected that Microsoft, in 2008, would have created something of a compatibility machine out of their latest Mac Office suite. However, it’s really no more compatible with their own filetypes than Apple’s model.

Of course it handles the usual Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files and creates them, too — but when you get more complex, especially with Excel spreadsheets that contain Microsoft’s own Visual Basic macros, Office for Mac cannot open it. To be fair, neither can Apple Numbers (iWork’s spreadsheet program) but it doesn’t claim to be fully compatible with all Windows Office filetypes.

With ‘Entourage’, the MS OFM e-mail program, which unless deselected makes itself the default e-mail client for the Mac (Apple Mail.app is much better), I believe Microsoft have gone waaaaay to far in including that new ‘My Day’ function. Basically it’s an overview of what you have planned in iCal — but why not use Mail and iCal seperately and know what you’re doing, rather than being bombarded by masses of generic, useless information when you just want to check your email?

Also integrated into OFM is a sort-of ‘Ribbon bar’ system as seen in Office for Windows 2007. Yes — this is a way to organise formatting and design styles, but old-style dropdown menus and prompts, as seen in iWork and even OFM 2004, are so much quicker and easier.

Basically, Microsoft Office for Mac 2008 is a bloated, ugly, boring office suite that will definitely be popular, because it looks vaguely familiar to what a ‘PC switcher’ has used for years. What these switchers don’t know, though, is that they could be getting so much more, so much more easily, in terms of speed, design, formatting and presentation, through iWork ’08.

Don’t be afraid to ignore Microsoft Office for Mac at the cash register. Save yourself a load of stress — and money — and pick up ‘iWork 08, for A$129.

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One Response to “Office 2008 for Mac: not worth your money”

  1. 1 jopriest

    Mac users buying Windows “ported” programs? Outrageous! Blasphemy! Oh well, thanks for the warning.


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