Is Microsoft Office on the Mac still important?

Is Microsoft Office on the Mac still important?

A new version of Microsoft Office may be ready for the Mac soon. Is it as important as it used to be?

Rumor has it that Microsoft is on the cusp of releasing a new version of Office for Mac. It's been more than three years since the last version of Office came out. Things have changed a lot. Is Microsoft Office still important?

Since Office's last major release on the Mac, Apple made a major strategic move to trump Microsoft: It began to include productivity apps as part of the standard suite of software applications included on all new Macs and iOS devices. You used to have to buy iWork apps — Pages, Keynote and Numbers — separately, but now you get them for free.

Those three apps fill in the gaps for some users who need word processing, spreadsheet and presentation software capabilities. There are certainly some benefits, too, such as iCloud support and binary compatibility for documents, making it simple to edit files on your Mac and use them on your iPad, or vice versa.

Other options have emerged, too. Free software alternatives to Office like LibreOffice may still raise eyebrows, but Google has normalized many people to using Google Docs for their productivity software and collaboration needs, for example.

iWork is good, but it's not that good. As I said back in February, 'Almost' isn't good enough. Despite the advances that Apple has made, Microsoft Office still reigns supreme in corporate environments and elsewhere. Many businesses and institutions continue to rely on Office as their standard.

Like most alternative productivity suites, iWork apps try to be good corporate citizens, offering Office file compatibility for import and export, but there's a difference between file compatibility and native file support, and many users of iWork apps and other tools have run into issues with documents just not looking right when they're translated into Office formats.

As I said at the outset, Apple has changed, but so has Microsoft. Much of their focus has been to make Office a subscription-based service rather than a monolithic software suite that gets updated once every few years.

You can still buy Office in a single user version. But Microsoft is following Adobe's Creative Cloud lead, offering an annual subscription with the promise of regular updates, along with other benefits, such as the ability to share one subscription with multiple devices, a free OneDrive cloud service account with 20 GB of storage, free Skype world minutes and more.

Of course, a new version of Office for Mac is only one tantalizing piece of the puzzle. The other is a version of Office that will run on iPads. Microsoft expert Mary Jo Foley suggested in February that an iPad version is coming sooner than people think, perhaps some time in the first half of 2014. A well-integrated Mac and iPad Microsoft Office ecosystem would certainly be fierce competition for Apple, which is still in a rebuilding year after gutting the iWork apps to get them to work more seamlessly across iOS and OS X.

Another piece of the puzzle: Microsoft may bring OneNote to the Mac in the next few weeks. Microsoft's note-taking app is a decade old, but it's not available in Mac native form, leaving the market wide open for competitors like Evernote to dominate.

Office remains one of the best selling software packages for the Mac. Lots of Mac users depend on Office to get their work done, and that's unlikely to change. Office is still front and center for many in the corporate and institutional worlds.

The combination of a new version of Microsoft Office for Mac, Office for iPad and OneNote for Mac suggests that Microsoft still thinks that Apple's platforms are still fertile ground. Even if you don't like Microsoft's products, you have to admit that the company's continued support is a net positive: It makes it easier to justify using Macs and iOS devices in enterprise and reduces friction for users who want to effortlessly produce documents that their non-Apple using colleagues can work.

To answer my initial question, Microsoft Office's role has changed. It's no longer irreplaceable - fact is, there are a lot of options people can use if they want to produce word processing docs, spreadsheets and attractive presentations. But Office is still a vital and important tool for many of us, and that won't change.

Are you looking forward to a new version of Office for the Mac? Will you migrate to new Office apps for OS X and iOS? Let me know what you think in the comments.

Peter Cohen

Managing Editor of iMore, Mac and gaming specialist and all-around technologist. Follow him on Twitter @flargh

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Is Microsoft Office on the Mac still important?

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Microsoft has it locked down when it comes to productivity software. Any office is better than iWork... I have Office 365 student, and although it is only office '11 on my Mac mini, I'm still enjoying the service. Once office '14 comes out for Mac it'll be that much better.

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Haven't used Microsoft office in years. Doesn't seem to have the same hold on the market as it used to. iWork gets all my paper work and spreadsheets done just fine, and I defiantly don't miss the Microsoft Office Prices.

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I'm assuming that you mean 'definitely' don't miss?
iWork may be nice to use but as powerful as Office? Be lucky if it gets as far as "Not even remotely close". Especially when it comes to Excel.

Emroid I agree with this for word v. Pages in some cases, definitely in Excel v. Numbers there is no comparison but Keynote beats PowerPoint all day long.

lol that's funny! Office is definitely better than iWork. I've had pages for a few years and picked up the rest of the suite when it became free. I do like it but it's not on the same level as office. The question itself is kind of weird since Apple never intended to topple office, merely provide an alternative to those who didn't want Microsoft products or who couldn't/didn't want to pay the price. I've never worked on a project with people across the world where we were exchanging Pages or Numbers documents. Excel and Word are just better products - at least right now they are.

Until a Windows option is developed iWork will literally never topple office. Businesses aren't in the business of supplying their staff with thousand dollar computers

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Yea, I haven't used Office for well over a decade now, other than a couple of times on my wife's computer, just to check I wasn't missing some details in a document someone sent me, which weren't displayed by translators.

In that time, I completed an undergrad and graduate degree and have my own business. I'm sure Office has some unique features some need, but for the average person, they are much better off without it. I found much better apps, such as Nisus Writer Pro while in school, and now mostly just use iWork.

And, depending on the relationship, if someone sends me an Office document (which, thankfully, is getting pretty rare these days), I'll often ask them to resend it as a PDF, RTF, or plain text, etc. It helps teach people that Office isn't a standard anymore, and that lots of people can't use the files.

Why do people forget they can have OpenOffice for free, on the Mac or PC?

Good enough for casually opening a doc or docx that was sent to you, without spending a cent.

I use it on my Linux machines all the time. The UI is really simple and more like Word / Office '97 or 2003 in simplicity. I can also use MS Office on my PC, but most of the time choose not to.

Good enough for most home users, I suppose. If you're not in business and rely on actually sending doc or docx, then you can export straight to pdf.

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That's another option, but IMO, is nearly as nasty to use as using Word itself. (The reason I don't use Word/Office isn't due to it's cost, but due to it's being nasty to actually use! We actually own it... my wife is the only one who sometimes uses it for work.)

But, the other problem with all the clones and translators in other apps, is that they aren't 100%. If you need to be 100%, then you need Office.

nothing like turning a 30 minute job (iwork pages) into a 2.5 hr one with word. truly horrible ux, ui everything about office is a complex mess.

That's pretty much it. Unless you're an Office guru, it's more like just get it done quickly, or fight with Office and have it still look cruddy. It's just never been worth my time to try and win the fight with Office. I know there are a few supposed 'power features' some depend on, but most just use it because they think they have to.

Word, without a doubt, is the worst software I have ever used. I had to create a 100-page operating manual with it. It was a freaking nightmare! I could've done it in Pages in a third of the time.

In my opinion Pages and the entire iWork Suite was always better than Office. When One Note first appeared I cannot lie I did drool over it a bit but became dissatisfied as I felt that MS did not really exploit or capitalize on what it was or could have been. Now with iWork being everywhere, and things like evernote and others it just may be too late for them (MS) to get the boom that they would have gotten had they done all of this earlier. A lot of people rely on office as their standard because it is what they are use to. Office has been everywhere for as long as I can remember, growing up when anything had to be typed like a paper or report etc. It was always about "Word" which I thought was the one and only platform out there to do such things. I got my first Mac and picked up iWork around 2011 and have never looked back, the flexibility of the iWork suite in my opinion is better than what Office offers. I wonder if roles were reversed and iWork was the more well known of the two and people were just use to it like they are office which would peole say is better....

A long time ago (in computer years that is), in a galaxy not-so-far-away, Microsoft actually was the underdog, to Word Perfect and Lotus 1-2-3. Something like a 90%-10% market share, with the Office apps on the bottom end. Word Perfect and Lotus were the "it" applications in the corporate environment as well, but that changed drastically. Why? Quite frankly, because Microsoft built better, and much-less-buggy applications overall.

It's nice that you picked up iWork and "never looked back;" there are plenty of people who've had your same experience; but honestly, none of the iWork suite -- perhaps excluding Keynote -- has ever been as good, as robust, as intuitive, as powerful, and as widely-accepted as their MS Office counterpart.

By offering the iWork suite free, and making it freely available via the Web, Apple is hoping to supplant -- or perhaps reduce usage of -- MS Office. They may succeed to some extent in the home user market. But in the corporate realm, where the real money is to be made, Apple is still selling Office 365 Pro to their business customers, who won't settle for iWork. Besides with, no matter how much Apple users would like it to be the case, the roles never will be reversed simply because Apple does not make the iWork Suite available for any other platform than OS X; while Microsoft has editions of Office for Windows, OS X, and mobile platforms, making them a true cross-platform software service provider.

At one point in time, no one ever would've thought Word Perfect could've been supplanted; yet they were. Unlike Word Perfect however, many, many, many folks have tried to wrest control of the business productivity suite away from Microsoft, but ultimately none of them have been successful because Microsoft stays one step ahead of the game with a better-quality, more-functional product.

It'll stay that way until they drop the ball, which, given how important the Office market is to Microsoft's bottom line, is not likely to happen very soon.

So, to answer the question posed by the title of this post: "Is Microsoft Office still important on the Mac?" The simple answer is "yes, it is."

Of course Office is still important. Until pro features like pivot tables, versioning, etc are in iWork (which I don't think they ever will be as that is not their target audience), Office will still be required. I can't imagine marking up a contract or analyzing large tables with iWork. However, for average tasks iWork programs are nice uncluttered tools to get the job done. I thought the mail merge in the Pages was MUCH easier to use than office, however they took that feature out of the latest version of pages...DOH!

I do think it is smart of Apple to include iWork for free, as it always seemed like an added tax to purchasing a computer to have to pay for the added software to be productive day one. I think the strategy is great as purchasers previously would probably just buy office by default if they had to spend money on productivity tools, which in most cases was probably more than they needed.

I do agree with you, and I think a lot of home users, and even small-business/entrepreneurs will find iWork well-suited to their needs. Yet, I have to tell you from personal experience selling Macs in the Apple store, both before and after iWork was free, most people still asked for Office, and the majority of those people wanted us to install it for them (which we, unfortunately, could not do).

Not you, or Mr. Cohen, nor anybody else in this forum has said what, precisely, they use in Office that iWork cannot do. I don't mean putting up a Ben Franklin comparison features list, I mean telling us EXACTLY what Office does FOR YOU and that YOU USE that iWork cannot do. I bet most posters here couldn't even describe a pivot table, much less create one. I've used iWork for work since 2006 after scrapping our Dells, and I miss nothing. Instead of spouting off from a position of ignorance, people should give iWork an honest try.
This same collection of hand-wringing happened when people started using Office instead of WordPerfect, 1-2-3, and Harvard Graphics back in the day. And the difference had nothing to do with robustness or capability, it had only to do with Windows 95 compatibility, which the non-Microsoft apps never really got, at least not soon enough. Office is not the end-all, just like those programs weren't.

Art, you sound a bit angry, and I apologize if what I've said has angered you; that was never my intent. I'm also not saying that iWork is deficient; far from it in fact as Pages has some features Word does not (as well as some features I don't believe are suited for a Word Processing package). Overall, I prefer Keynote to Powerpoint for it's transitions primarily. And while I cannot remember how to create a pivot table, I do know what they are, and I have used them in previous jobs for drilling down into data. So I hope I've convinced you I am not "spouting off from a position of ignorance," especially as when I worked for Apple Retail as recently as last November, I taught workshops on iWork applications.

It's important to remember with any software application, 80% of the users will use only 20% of the functionality, and vice-versa. That being said, both Office and iWork are perfectly capable of handling most everyone's needs. So why is Office still relevant on the Mac? For two major reasons:
1) Office is the de facto standard of business around the world because it was the first Office productivity suite available for both Windows and the Mac.
2) Most people learn how to do word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, etc., in Office as a result of the market penetration of Windows and, believe-it-or-not, two very shrewd marketing/licensing practices on Microsoft's part: highly-discounted Education pricing, and business licensing which allowed employees to install a copy of Office on their home/personal computer. These two things encouraged people to take what they used in college into their career settings (which happened a lot as was my experience in IT), and/or take Office home with them, which had the additional benefit of them taking Office with them into subsequent jobs where employers had not settled on a standard.

Now you asked exactly what Office does for me that iWork cannot do? The easiest answer it it allows me to seamlessly work with my document files whether I'm on one of my Windows computers, or one of my Macs, in an environment I've been familiar with for 20+ years, without having to relearn shortcuts, or where to find specific less-used features I need when I need them.

Ultimately, those are the things that make an application robust and capable; that 20% of the feature-set you use as an individual, and how easy and comfortable their use is for you.

So again, I will assert Office is still relevant on the Mac, and will be for many years to come.

I apologize if I sounded angry...I just hate the "me too" posts that have no reason for being.
I am a government contractor, and the government is 100% Office. I have submitted thousands of documents to them over the last eight years, and never got a single complaint about compatibility or anything else. They are split about evenly between word processing documents and spreadsheets. I don't send them presentations, but I use them several times a month. I'm simply sick and tired of people telling me, a person who has actually done it for years, that iWork cannot substitute for Office. They don't realize the reverse is sometimes true, but the bottom line is they have no idea what they're talking about. Alas, one cannot stop them from spouting off here and elsewhere with no experience to base it on.
And you selling Office for Macs that come free with iWork, unfortunately, falls in that category. Please actually use it for real-world work first. That's all I ask.

Art, you presume that I haven't, when in fact, I have. I worked for Apple; I used iWork on a daily basis. I taught iWork Workshops. I feel I'm qualified to speak without my post being a "me too" kind-of thing. My experience in IT goes back to 1979 when I graduated from High School. They were still teaching us card keypunch, and I was using a TRS-80 Model I at home. I've literally grown up with the industry. I was a programmer for 14 years. An educator, teaching introduction to computers, word processing, spreadsheets and SQL among other things for over six years. The first Apple I worked on was an Apple ][. I worked with a Lisa before the Mac was released. I used PageMaker doing DTP on the Mac, etc., etc., etc.

I'm not saying this to pat myself on the back, or show off, or anything like that. Maybe just to make a point: before you go accusing someone of not knowing what they're talking about, maybe ask them what their background is, or inquire what experience has led them to their conclusions/opinions.

I respect and realize your experience as a government contractor is very different from my background. My sister wrote grant proposals, so I know the government can be very picky about what they expect. Without my understanding how complicated from a special-formatting perspective the documents you've had to produce are, I can't even begin to speak to your experience. Yet, given what you've said, I can venture to guess that they've not been too exotic, and therefore, I believe you've not had any problems using iWork. And you know what? That's WONDERFUL!

When I taught, when I sold, I always told my customers it was about what best fit THEIR needs. I always recommended they try iWork first because it was a very good zero-cost solution, and some of them did. However, most of them wanted Office because it was what they knew, what their professors were using, or what they were required to use by their companies, or the folks they contracted for; and those are realities which, in their minds, meant buying Office when it came down to it.

"The easiest answer it it allows me to seamlessly work with my document files whether I'm on one of my Windows computers, or one of my Macs, in an environment I've been familiar with for 20+ years, without having to relearn shortcuts, or where to find specific less-used features I need when I need them."

That is simply untrue. Once the document is opened, everything you mentioned applies as is.

Please try to be truthful.

Art, it's a little presumptuous of you to tell me what is true for me and what is not. The statement I made is true for me. If you cannot -- or will not -- accept that, then the problem is yours, not mine.

Now, a hard, unarguable truth is iWork is not made to operate natively in Windows. It is Mac-only, or usable via a Web browser. The browser-based version is not full-fledged, and Apple has as much admitted that publicly.

A second hard, unarguable truth is, iWork is not 100% compatible with Office documents. Some formatting will not display properly in iWork, and some iWork documents, when saved in Office formats, will not display properly in Office.

So again, the only way to be 100% compatible, is to be running Office on both Windows and OS X.

Now, I have been truthful, and I feel this conversation has run it's course. Please do not insult me further by accusing me of lying, and allow this matter to lay in peace. It's okay to disagree, we are each entitled to our own opinions; I have not insulted you, and I would ask you not to do the same again.

Less buggy? Um no. I've used both WordPerfect (since 5.1) and Word (since Word 6) and at no time has WordPerfect been more buggy than Word.

Corporations and schools switched to Word because of licensing deals on Windows machines.

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That is only partially correct. Many of WordPerfect's core customers abandoned them when the first version of WordPerfect for Windows hit along with Windows '95 due to how buggy their Windows release was. I was working for Egghead at the time, and most every copy we sent out the door came back within 12-24 hours; we started calling it "Word Imperfect." That was the big game-changer in the word processing market.

Oh, and for the record, I started using WordPerfect at version 2.0, and Word at version 1.0 (when it was DOS-based); yeah, I know, I'm Methuselah. :)

That's interesting. When I was growing up everything was about WordPerfect. Then Microsoft released Word...and everything changed.

Word was out for quite a while as a DOS-based application. I used it in the late '80s in college, mostly because it was so much less expensive to buy Word as a student. However, it never really gained a foothold until it became "Word for Windows," and then, not even until Windows 95, when WordPerfect released their first GUI-based version of their software, and it turned out to be far too soon before it was ready. It was so buggy, most of my customers at Egghead were returning it within 12-24 hours after buying it, and exchanging it for Word which had the ability to map the keyboard to WordPerfect key-combinations with a "learning" feature to teach users the new shortcuts in Word.

It was an interesting time in the industry.

I remember that time well. WordPerfect quickly went from becoming THE word processor to dead. I just about added counselor to my CV from all the office admins nearly crying because they knew WP so well, and were frustrated by how bad it had become and the impending changes to alternatives (usually Office).

LOL. Yeah, it kind-of shocked me how quickly the tables turned. But it's a testament to the importance of quality assurance and not rushing to market just to have a competitive presence. WordPerfect's user-base was a dedicated bunch, and they woul'dve held on to their DOS-based product until the Windows version was truly ready.

And not getting too confident when you think you own a market. :) (WordPerfect, Palm, Microsoft, Apple someday?)

For school district administrators that are afraid of change, yes Microsoft office is their lifeline to the digital world.

I am in academia, Office is still a thing. I must admit that I prefer things like Smart Art in Powerpoint when I make my presentations. So yeah, it is ugly as ever, but I still use Office for Mac.

Office is important to many, as referred to in the post. And for the reasons listed as well
But for many general consumer needs, and for many micro and small businesses, the other options easily fill the needs, and do so for free. Therefore MS Office is not as important to as many users as it once was.
That being said, I agree it will still be a big success on Mac and iOS, if it truly comes to iOS.

The only reason I still use Office is because I still cannot trust the compatibility of files created with other applications including iWork when collaborating or sharing files in a business setting. I'm not sure if it's an issue with Apple or Microsoft but either way, there is always at least a few issues with the documents.

I think this is the biggest fear that prevents people from switching; if, that is, they are in a collaborative environment. Once something can really be done about that issue, Microsoft Office will wilt away.

iWork will never be built for "more than OSX". Apple Works was the original shot at that and once they killed it, there was no looking back. Apple only creates software for Windows if it absolutely has too. They only keep iTunes up to date because they have a huge revenue stream from the iTunes store and they need it to supports the iPhone, iPad & iPod for Windows users. Apple is a hardware company, not a software company. They make software to sell their hardware.

But if Apple wants to really compete they will have to. For better or for worse we live in a Windows world.

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No they won't. They don't care about competing in that space. Reiterating what @tricorius said below, iWork for iCloud is the closest you'll get to a cross platform version of iWork.

Also, there were once competitive reasons why Apple might have wanted to take Microsoft down a notch, but these days, Microsoft has pretty much done that to themselves. Apple now might have to encourage Microsoft a bit so they don't end up going away.

I don't think you'll ever get a binary version of iWork for any other platform. The best you'll get is iWork for iCloud (which is actually pretty solid).

What kind of question is if Microsoft Office is still relevant? The answer to that is simple: does iWork still suck? Yes. Does iWork still have lots of compatibility issues with office files? Yes. Apple's software is only relevant if you live entirely in the Apple ecosystem. For those that don't (the rest of the world as the majority) then, yes, office is still relevant. iWork is free cause it's terrible. There are better free alternatives to iWork.

I think it has become a relevant question since a HUGE (and rapidly growing) slice of the computing pie don't even have the option. Now, if you really want to be compatible, you need an app which saves in a non-Office format.

So, it's really.... is Microsoft Office still relevant in some sectors? Yes.... in others, no.

I've actually used iWork almost exclusively throughout my undergrad days, without running into much compatibility issues. However, I'm a teacher now in a high school, and that has forced me to use Microsoft Word because it contains equation editor and other features that Pages just doesn't have.

Which brings me to my main point: Apple's apps are a joy to use, with a simple and elegant user interface - but sometimes, they just lack certain features which users need. An example is Pages vs Word: sure, word has a super cluttered interface (i still can't get used to it) but I'm willing to bet that any feature users want is in there. Another example is Apple Maps vs Google Maps: apple has a nicer interface, but Google has more features and better data.

Many companies need to learn from Apple, that sometimes less can be more: but apple too, needs to learn that taking minimalism too far may remove important features.

But isn't that to be expected of Apple who has always to the best of my knowledge had the ' form over function' mentality? Other platforms debut New things and refine them over time. Apple won't do anything until they can do it "well".

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Reality is that MS Office is the standard for those who create documents to share. Other suites may claim compatibility but "close" is never good enough. Incompatibilities put focus on translation errors instead of information exchange and that's unproductive. When true compatibility arrives it will be a happy and different world, but I cannot see Office being replaced by anything else in the near future.

As much as I hate it, I need it to do my day job. The Apple alternative does not cut it, and is truly not 100% compatible. Formatting is lost, programming and equations set up are lost in the translation, and you just cannot go back and forth.

That's how I feel about Google Docs. I'm not an Office power user, so Google Docs (and probably iWork, but I don't use that) offers the functions I need, but the format gets annihilated when I export it as an Office doc to send to people who exclusively use Office. It's a pain in the ass.

Yup, give me Onenote and visual studio (not holding breath) and I need windows no more. Except testing of course.

I like your thinking there Ivavila but add Visio to that list. If I could get Visio on the Mac I would be gone from Windows 100%.

I prefer OmniGraffle (which reads Visio) over Visio along with Balsamiq for wireframes so Im good there. Cheers!

Ahhh...that would be nice. But I don't think you'll ever see Microsoft write an OS X version of Visual Studio. ;) And if they did, that would significantly cut into the Parallels sales... I, for one, am a proud supporter of everything the folks over at Parallels do. Making Windows run better on OSX than bare metal is pretty impressive. ;)

Agreed but VMware Fusion helps make my Mac Retina the best Windows machine money can buy since I have to develop Compact framework thus vs 2008, 2010 (win7) & 2013 (win8). Works out.

I'm a CPA and I don't ever see any program being able to replace Excel as the standard for spreadsheets (if anyone tells you that Numbers can compare to Excel - they are foolish - Excel truly is the superior program). If you look at finance/accounting jobs at Apple on their site, they require proficiency in Excel not Numbers.

Due to the integration with Word, unfortunately its probably going to remain the standard. However, I despise using both Word and PowerPoint from the Office Suite. Now that iWork is on iCloud, I have been doing all of my presentations for over a year or so on Keynote (but there isn't really a need for me to share these like I have to with Excel and Word documents. I do think Pages is easier to use than Word and doing things like a resume seems to go smoother in Pages than in Word.

On my personal machine, I don't really need it. I did buy Office 2011 when I was using my personal machine for work (Office is still the standard). I would say that yes, I would upgrade to a new version. However, it has to be a big improvement over the current. Outlook for Mac is horrific, and I've had countless issues trying to open Word docs that were heavy on images. I haven't done much with Excel but what I have done was not the most pleasant experience (granted, I've been using Office 2010 on Windows for a while now, and I realize there are going to be differences, but I cringe if I have to use Office 2011). So, if they actually make it a nice piece of software that doesn't crash as often and works at least close to how the Windows counterparts work, I probably would grab it.

In comparison Office is like a 16 lane highway consisting of collector lanes, express lanes and many exit ramps. While iWork is a side street. It is nicely paved with zero traffic but it has a speed limit of 40 km/h, many one way streets and lots of dead ends.

I guess that depends on perspective. For my work, iWork is like a bullet train. It doesn't always have the flexibility I need (so I use other apps for that stuff), but for what it does, it is incredibly efficient and nice to use.

On the other hand, Office is like a ride through the ghetto in a pink Pinto with street gangs everywhere and a radiator leak. Everywhere a fight to attempt to get anything done, and even if you somehow manage, the results are crud.

I manage 150 Macs and 60 WinTel boxes. We use Open Source software when it make sense, and Commercial Software where it is needed. We have 6 Windows users in the Accounting Department who run MS Office (in order to use 3rd party Excel plugins). Everyone else runs OpenOffice and have no problem sharing (or linking to) spreadsheets with MSO users. Some business users definitely need MSO, but for most IMO, programs like OpenOffice or Google Docs are a good alternative.

I work for a large company that like many others standardized on MS Office. While I prefer the features and usability of Office over iWorks, I never adapted to the Mac version so typically run MS Office in Parallels. However I have an aversion to "renting" anything. I prefer to purchase. And the day MS stops selling individual licenses and makes the subscription based version the only option is the day I kiss MS goodbye for good.

I have tried to leave office... (unsuccessfully) Take outlook for example. Every time I find an email app (and I have tried them all) they always seem to be missing one thing that I really need. For instance, I love Postbox, but it seems to play hell with pasted document formats. I am a writer. When I submit something to an agent, I don't want to have to take an hour to make sure Postbox didn't screw up the formatting which it invariably does almost every time. Outlook at lease accepts large text pastes without screwing with the formatting. Postbox has a hard time pasting HTML and often includes the little link icons which you can't delete.

I often have to past from my writing program into word, and then copy it from word into Postbox. Still a great program but they need to work on that.

Yes. There are many jobs where desktop publishing is important and a material part of the job. Many businesses have all employees using Office. And word is the standard format. As was stated in the article almost isn't good enough in many cases. I've tried iworks and it ruins the intricate formatting in some documents. Online options like google are simply not an option as security of client documents can't be maintained. I think if you don't deskstop publish office isn't important. For the rest of the business world it is. Not to mention excel is also a standard and you need that in many jobs. The home users can survive without it. I think the professional needs Word. Additionally, i don't think it's a big deal that there hasn't been an update. I'm on windows and use office 2010 and it's still usable.

For the last 15 years I have been 100% a MS Office user (Word, Excel, Project, Visio, Access, PowerPoint).

Then I got an iPad and one Sunday afternoon while watching football I decided to download and learn iPad Numbers. First test was to convert my vacation planning excel spreadsheet to Numbers. Two hours later done. I actually liked the results better on Numbers. Having multiple floating spreadsheet on a single tab was a true eye opener for me, wished excel had that feature. For the past year all my trips have been planned in Numbers.

I plan on getting a Mac later this year, leaving windows behind. Will probably use Numbers for personal use and office for work only.

Personally I doubt enterprise company's will switch to iWork. I am fine with being an expert at both applications.

I keep Office on my Mac, but I can purchase it through work for $10. That makes it pretty much a no brainer to get since the wife uses Office all the time. I mostly use iWork but sometimes use Office as well.

I never have liked office for the mac. I bought it when I purchased my 2010 macbook (my first mac), but was never happy with how it worked compared to the windows version. Since I have been using iWork there is no comparison. It is easy to use and synchs on all divorces through icloud. Not to be cliche but it just works.

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I have hated Office in all its iterations and I have used it both on PC and Mac. It's power no doubt but truly clumsy in design and experience. Office has made its mark in every office globally and people know it, maybe not in and out but they know it. iWork works for me and its price is unbeatable. Better designed altogether and the "togetherness" as I like to call it using it on the iPhone to iPad Air to the Mac mini to the MacBook is unmatched in continuous workflow. I still think Office is relevant as there are many that have been using it since forever but their pricing first and foremost needs to be re-thought. I believe this is key to reaching a broader audience where it's believed that iWork is just another substitute. Maybe Apple should make iWork for Windows 8.1 touch screen computers/tablets. This could be very disruptive once people see the ease of use.

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iWork has come a long way, but there is no match for MS Office. I would love to quit using Office, but I just can't. Sometimes (ok, many times), it's clumsy, but does many things others can't do.

Put simply, yes, Microsoft Office is still important for Macs. Using Microsoft Office has become the norm to basically every computer operating system out there. When Apple tried to compete with it by creating iWorks, Microsoft still blew them out of the water with the fact that Word is the gold standard of word processing. Even with new developments in the programming of Apple's iWork, like you said in the article, "iWork is good, but it's not that good. As I said back in February, 'Almost' isn't good enough. Despite the advances that Apple has made, Microsoft Office still reigns supreme in corporate environments and elsewhere. Many businesses and institutions continue to rely on Office as their standard (Cohen)." In addition, the influence of Office can be witnessed on multiple operating systems and on multiple platforms. Phones have it, computers have it, tablets have it; basically anything that you can make text with can use Office. As for Pages? Well, we all know where that story ends. That distinct advantage of an overwhelming presence of Office in households, businesses, and government, world-wide, nearly puts the question, "Is Microsoft Office on the Mac still important (Cohen)," to shame. Furthermore, because of this distinct advantage, both types of consumers, new and old, will gravitate towards Office in multiple aspects, e.g., stay with it, return to it, or start using it. And if you take into account the possibility of avoiding compatibility issues, Microsoft Office on Mac just seems that much more relevant.

I use a Mac for work and having MSOffice allows that to be a pretty much seamless transition. I am confident that I could get LibreOffice or iWork to do the job, I frankly don't have the time to dedicate to getting all the formatting tweaks and gotchas in order.

That said, I use LibreOffice for all my family machines. There is nothing my family does on the computer that requires true compatibility with MSOffice.

iWork and/or any productivity suite advertised as an alternative to MS Office will supplant it when an Office document will be opened in said alternative suite and look EXACTLY like the original, which has never happened. And I have been using alternatives to MS Office since the days of ClarisWorks.

If all you have to do is create a simple document file that you are the only one that will have access to that file, iWork is nice and simple to use. As soon as you need to share or collaborate with that file, iWork goes into the trash.

I've tried and tried to use iWork for things like this. There's not just incompatibility issues, it's complete document destruction. Destruction of simple, common formatting standards, so much so that it's been easier to just start from scratch in word anyways than to try to fix iWork's mess.

I use Numbers and Pages and Keynote in a Windoze corporate environment. I'm the oddball with my Mac, but for several years nobody has cared (unusual for a corporate IT department!).
The new Numbers is pretty impressive. Numbers now translates Excel files that do not contain macros or ActiveX content really, really well. I suggest you try it - both exporting and importing.
More importantly to me, Numbers exports to Excel pretty much perfectly. So my workflow is this: Make documents in Numbers, Pages, and Keynote then export them to Excel, Word, and PowerPoint. Excel documents come out perfect. Word documents usually come out perfect. PowerPoint documents need tweaking only if I used some custom shape with text inside it.
If Apple EVER creates compatibility with Excel macros, ActiveX, and the ability to generate custom cell formatting Numbers will, indeed, have a chance to supplant MS Office.

I've found that Microsoft has cracked the code when it comes to Office Productivity tools. Especially given that the PC world is still largely dominated by MS Office and MS Win7 or 8, I do not see how folks using a Mac can survive without Office for Mac.

I use Office for Mac 2011 extensively, and do like its easy to use interface, and quick tools. I do miss the simple keyboard shortcuts that are available in Windows for excel etc, but nonetheless, if you're a person who collaborates with the rest of the world on your presentations, spreadsheets, and documents, there is now way, you will pull it off using the iWorks suite......its no where close.

I've made a few comments through out the thread so now I will add my use case. I need Office. I hate it but need it. There are things I have to do in Excel that are functions just not supported in Numbers, same goes for Word and Pages. Don't get me wrong there are things I can do in Pages that I could only dream of doing in Word. PowerPoint and Keynote on the other hand. I do all my presentations in Keynote and if I need to save them in PowerPoint for mat, I do.

As for the OneNote addition, that would be nice. I started using OneNote when it came out and loved it for taking notes, then Evernote came out. About that same time I changed to being a Mac user and Evernote was about my only option for Note taking. My issue now is that Evernote has become bloatware and more difficult to use. I need to be able to take simple notes and save them. Like having the syncing function so they are on my iPad as well and that has saved me countless hours, but it has just become too hard to use. I welcome OneNote coming to the Mac if it will sync with OneNote on my iPad.

Now give me Visio on the Mac and i Will be forever gone from Windows. I just don't like any of the alternatives like using VMware Fusion or Bootcamp or Crossover.

No Microsoft office here. Been using Google Drive and Oracle ever since I got my MacBook Pro years ago. Work still uses outdated windows. So both work fine

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Is Microsoft Office still important, period? Mmmm nope -- not too much. The company I work for and the company my wife works for both do all of their documents via Google Docs. Super efficient way to get things done, especially when multiple eyes need to be on the document at a given time. The real-time edits is awesome.

iWork is a nice alternative and for the majority of the population, it will do everything that they need. For students, Office will still be the software of choice. I tried to use iWork, but it is a hassle having to "Save As" for every document.

I would say that iWork rivals (and is better than) Google Drive for the majority of consumer-level needs.

Business needs are most likely going to skew toward MS Office solutions for anything other than startups or small business (which usually don't need the heavy feature set that accompanies Office).

This said, I have absolutely NO issue spending 10 bucks a month on Office 365 Home with the ability to install compatible versions on the systems that our family needs...especially as my teenagers are looking toward college. It just simplifies everything in a "mixed platform" household.

I think Microsoft is starting to see that technology is a mix of blurred lines. With "mixed platform" households in the consumer space (many using Windows computers and iOS mobile devices, some possibly leaning toward Apple computers to replace the windows machines) and the Bring Your Own Device initiative in the business world, they are trying to keep lock-in where their strengths lie. Although the typical family may not be buying one or two Windows computers every few years, they *may* spend 100 a year on a family office subscription. I doubt Microsoft cares if the income moves away from Windows licenses toward Office licenses...they just want the money coming in.

The more curious thing to me is what this means for Apple and iWork. I'm sure they will continue to progress iWork. They obviously see an increasing foothold in consumer and enterprise and would like to keep pushing their software lines into those markets regardless of what hardware does.

In the workplace and in education Microsoft still has a stranglehold on the market. I am a writer by trade and the only time I use Microsoft Office is for school or when I collaborate with someone who works for a large company.

I would much rather use something like Markdown or plain text. Even when I am forced to produce a Microsoft Word document I will do all the dirty work in plain text and convert the final product.

I've used MS Office for years on my Macs at home and work and PCs at work. It used to be that you had to have it to get any work done. Not so true anymore. Even at work, Google Docs is now acceptable. I've gotten used to using Office alternatives on my iPad and Mac. iWork among them. I probably won't upgrade to Office '14, and probably wouldn't get the suite for iPad either. Good news for those that depend on it, but for me, meh (shrug shoulders).

I can live without Word Excel Outlook and PowerPoint, and keep using iWorks for years until now, but where the hell is Access-like for iWorks?

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I'd like to keep everything within the Apple eco-system, but Office is such a monster in this space that it's easier just to stick with it. I have a Pro version of the last Office on my Mac as my work were doing some kind of licensing thing with Microsoft and offering it for £10 (I think the retail was about £150 at the time). And as the Office tools are the default in pretty much every business across the world, it's easier for me to have Office myself when working on my own machine and move between the same file/file types.

I work in an academic setting where i need to exchange documents (word, excel and powerpoint) that can be edited by others. Everyone uses their own personal computers for work so there is a healthy mix of windows PCs and Macs. Without Office for Mac everyone would either have to use office in a virtual machine or buy a windows PC so yes if you have to work with others Office for Mac is still very relevant. I use it every day and the 2011 version is fast and generally works well. I really don't understand why people bash it.

I've used Office in the corporate world for years until I recently retired. Using iWorks I haven't missed using Word or PowerPoint. I do however miss Excell. Numbers works well but it doesn't seem to have the intuitiveness of what I'm wanting to do that Excell had. That said I must also add that I'm using iWork's on my iPad and iPhone and I used Office on a laptop. Unless Office for iPad is better than Office Mobile then I see no real benefit to having it.

Great article. I still think Office is the better choice. iWorks feels like a sorry excuse sometimes. However, Microsoft doesn't offer visio to Mac users and Apple really hasn't created a good alternative to it. The problem for awhile was what is a good alternative for mac users to draw diagrams. So this has been a grey area I feel like for some time now. I am curious to how Microsoft and Apple will respond to that problem. In the meantime, I have looked around and one that I have been pretty confident Lucidchart has a been a pretty good alternative for this awkward stage. It syncs with Google drive which is really convenient for Mac users to be able to utilize cloud usage. If anyone else is feeling the same struggle here is a link to soften the beating of the Microsoft and Apple fight for productivity apps and programs.

https://www.lucidchart.com/pages/tour/visio_for_mac

Visio, and Publisher have been sore points for us on the Mac. I was very impressed with Merlin as a replacement for Project, so absolutely not missing anything there. But another hole is Access. I think for a simple tool, Bento is OK, but Access is the professional amateur database tool! :-)

I really don't have time to discuss which is necessary...I would really love to be referred to whomever anyone may know that is a guru in the "Office for Mac 2011 forms"

The title of my blog post from last November still holds true: "For Office, Microsoft is still King - But What About Mobile?" I have tried OpenOffice / LibreOffice, and after using them for 3 years, I can unequivocally state that they are junk, not worth the price (sic). I have made some mild attempt at using the Apple productivity suite, and yet again - the same reason I switched to all Apple hardware - why bother with anything inferior? Stick with the best, and for office suite, that is Microsoft. I look forward to something better than 2011 on the Mac, although I do enjoy the Mac interface on Office.