Mac users got an update to MS Office yesterday—Microsoft updates Office for Mac 2008 and 2004—but today I read on MacLife that the next version of MS Office will be 32-bit only because MSFT hasn’t finished updating the app suite to use more Cocoa. Remember when Mac users all used MacWrite and MacPaint? Fine that was 1987, but still. I remember when Word for Mac was brand new. Heck I remember when Excel for Mac was brand new (and came before Excel on Windows). The big part of using Office for Mac always has been maintaining compatibility and inter-workingness with Windows users, but now I have to wonder if that is overblown. I wonder if MS Office for Mac has become piece of bloatware that we can do without.
A few weeks ago I tweeted that iWork was looking more and more tempting after MS Word corrupted a crucial file (it’s always and only the crucial ones that get corrupted) again. The response to my tweet was overwhelmingly just switch and don’t look back.
So I did.
I have to say that I don’t miss MS Word or PowerPoint or Excel (truth be told I don’t do much in Excel), however I also have to wonder how long that will last.
I’m pretty sure that I’m going to have to continue to use MS Word for any books I write with Pearson. There are special styles that are required, and while I know I can import those styles into Pages, it might take fussing to get to work right.
Which brings me back to the essential question:
“Can Mac users really avoid using MS Office completely and just use iWork and not run into constant frustration?”
By “avoid” I don’t mean not exporting into .doc or .ppt or whatever, I mean avoid needing/launching/using the whole app suite. Exporting into different formats is essential to almost all office suites. You just have to be able to put documents into various formats.
I think the more salient point might be, is an en mass switching to iWork something that might be bad for the Mac community in the long run? I know we have a love-hate relationship with Microsoft and all, but let’s be realistic here, the majority of the world uses Windows. Sure, a lot of the Web 2.0/social media world is pretty Mac-centric, sure at Northern Voice and WordCamps PCs are often in the minority in the audience, but this is a microcosm of reality.
Or has OS X become such a large enough user group that Microsoft can’t afford not to support us?
Myself, I’m going to as little Microsoft as I can get away with. I have to launch Parallels to use XP and Office 2007 to finish Using WordPress, but Book Three might just need Word for Mac for pre-submission formatting (or I might try using Pages). I think the strength of where both OS X and the iPad are going leads me to believe that I can forgo spending the money to update Office for Mac when Office 2011 rolls along.
Let’s just see how that goes.