iWorks vs Office - Actual differences

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by Skydiver32, May 19, 2009.

  1. Skydiver32 macrumors member

    May 15, 2009
    So as I wait for WWDC to purchase my UMB, I've been reading about this debate b/w iworks and office.

    Here is the confusion. The story from an apple "genius" - iWorks allows you to open any office file (Word, excell or PPT) and work with in the native OS system without difficulty. You can also save to any of the above formats - so file transfers and exchange between workers/users should be seamless.

    So why get office? "Genius" answer: It's primarily for thoses that are comfortable with the way office looks, ie format.

    What I've been reading in this forum is that people do get both iWorks and Office for Macs (which apparently is not very robust), some go with boot camp and Office for Win.

    Q? What are the actual differences? Other than how one looks over the other. Is there anything you can't do with iWork and need office?
  2. NewMacbookPlz macrumors 68040


    Sep 28, 2008
    I'm not too keen on the differences other than at the interface level, but the new Office for Mac is actually rated as better than the PC equivalent by some reviewers now; so I'm not sure where the "not robust" idea came from. The big short coming as compared to the PC is the lack of Visual Basic support.
  3. Skydiver32 thread starter macrumors member

    May 15, 2009
    Follow up with the inevitable question. What will I be doing?
    I'm a medical student and will be starting Residency next year, so what do I need? A word processor for papers. A presentation suite (PPT or Keynote) and an excell like application for Pt labs.

    All pretty basic, but will need to share my data with others and may be using older version of MS office.

    So it goes back to the original q?
    What are the actual differences?
    And do I need office? I rather stay with the cheaper iWorks.

    PS. This will be my first Mac so the whole look of office won't matter that much because everything is going to be new. (I also hate the newer versions of Office - which seem to have their own compatibility problems)

    Holy Moley, that was quick!! Thank you

    What do you mean by Visual Basic Support?
  4. PolySciSurfer macrumors 6502

    Jan 9, 2009
    Go with Office.
  5. NewMacbookPlz macrumors 68040


    Sep 28, 2008
    Just FYI, there's a free option: OpenOffice- http://download.openoffice.org/

    It's now a native App, no longer clunky and needing X11 to run. It natively reads/writes to Office 2000 format, and will read Office 2003 format no problem. The limitation is sometimes things won't render properly especially if the document was created on Office 2003 with special formatting things.

    A nice thing is the built-in export to PDF option (big up on the PC, the Mac can do it via Printer with no added software anyway).

    Seeing how I only use Office for resume updating and a touch of Excel type stuff here and there, OpenOffice works great for me, and it's FREE!

    With your worry about older version incompatibility, Office 2008 will save to Office 2003 format no problem. You'd just need to select Save As .doc/.xls/.ppt instead of .docx/.xlsx/.pptx.

    As far as Visual Basic: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visual_Basic

    I've never used it/had a need for it, and it doesn't sound like you will either.
  6. Skydiver32 thread starter macrumors member

    May 15, 2009
    Thanks for the reply, but I'm looking for tangibles, hence the confusion.

  7. NewMacbookPlz macrumors 68040


    Sep 28, 2008
    Office will make for complete compatibility.

    The biggest issue with iWork will probably come with your created documents, as a lot of the sparkle and glam of iWork's stuff won't translate into anything in Office.

    On the other hand, iWork will be able to open up Office documents, but may lose the formatting when it comes to some of the fancier stuff that people may try and do in Office, especially with non-standard templates and user-specific templates.

    Really though, download OpenOffice and give it a shot. If you don't like it, delete it and you're back where you started with no $$ lost.
  8. Skydiver32 thread starter macrumors member

    May 15, 2009
  9. Burning Radio macrumors regular

    Apr 11, 2009
    So for writing simple papers/reports and making a presentation, iWork will suffice--if not surpass--what I need. (At least that's what I'm figuring.) I think I'll just go with iWork for freshmen year and then if I NEED Office, I'll just take advantage of the university deal. I feel like It'll all integrate better if I use the Apple program in Mac OS X.

    So basically, it's all a matter of personal preference or very specific needs?
  10. PolySciSurfer macrumors 6502

    Jan 9, 2009
    Because I said so.

    JK, because it is used more often by companies, people, and well my school. When I took computer science classes, and we had to learn excel, powerpoint, access, and word. Guess what we used, office. There was no iwork class. I think that says it all.
  11. kasakka macrumors 68000

    Oct 25, 2008
    This. I've been using OpenOffice on both Win and OSX for years and it's worked fine as long as you don't use any fancy effects for Powerpoint etc. Which may be a good thing since effects don't really add anything to a good presentation...
  12. Unprocessed1 macrumors 65816


    Jun 23, 2008
    I'd go with Office on the 3 major programs besides Powerpoint.

    Word is honestly easier to use out of the sheer basis of familiarity, plus the additional features mentioned before.
  13. xraydoc macrumors 604


    Oct 9, 2005
    When I create documents, I usually will use either Pages or Nissus Writer Express for text and Keynote for presentations. When I receive documents from others in .doc or .ppt format, however, I've frequently come across files that only open properly, with 100% correct formatting, in Microsoft Office.

    Despite the reasonably good conversion built in to Pages, Keynote and OpenOffice/NeoOffice, I've got several examples of documents that are only formatted correctly in Microsoft Office. Sucks, but that's the way it is.

    I can't say which to buy, since I use both regularly. I always make all of my own presentations in Keynote, but be prepared to do some tweaking of the formatting, effects, etc., if you must use PowerPoint to present them. I try to use my own laptop whenever possible, but sometimes I've got no choice but to present using PowerPoint on a Windows PC.

    The Student version of Microsoft Office is reasonably priced, so I can't help but recommend that if you can at all afford it. iWork - especially Keynote - is superior (in terms of ease of use & look, IMHO) as long as the files will be used on another Mac with iWork or as long as the recipient (Windows, Linux or Mac) is OK with a PDF file.

    You can buy iWork and download NeoOffice or OpenOffice for free and give that a try; you can always buy MS Office at a later time if you find it necessary.

    As for complex Excel documents, I can't say how Numbers or OpenOffice compares. My spreadsheet creation requirements are pretty basic and any of the three seem to be sufficient for me. But, I have received some .xls files which use complex pivot tables, and those I must open in Excel or OpenOffice (or NeoOffice) to get them to work properly - Numbers is too basic.
  14. Richard1028 macrumors 68000

    Jan 8, 2009
    This thread cracks me up. :D

    Here's a medical student about to go $100k+ in debt and everybody is quibbling over the differences just to save a few bucks. :)

    Get the academic standard - MS Office. You won't regret it especially when somebody sends you an Excel spreadsheet with enough embedded formulas to choke a horse.
  15. ppc750fx macrumors 65816

    Aug 20, 2008
    Go with OpenOffice.


    It's simple: right now, you don't need to spend the money on MS Office. There will be plenty of ways to get MS Office later if the need arises -- but until you're sure you need it, does it really make sense to spend half a grand on software just because some random forum poster says so? I'd posit that it doesn't.

    OpenOffice is free. Give it a try. If it suits you, great: you just saved $500 or so. If you find that you actually need MS Office, you're no worse off than you were before.

    Simple, no?
  16. Skydiver32 thread starter macrumors member

    May 15, 2009
    Haha!! Try something ~ 300K, and all for the privalege of getting a job where I'll get to work 80 hrs per week and get about $5 per hour :eek:

    It's not going in debt that scares me, obviously, its the fact that I only get 2 FA checks that have to last me until Aug 2010.

    And for the "academic standard" is office, isn't Windows the computing std?

    Sorry to be a PITA, but tha is what I'm supposed to be doing - Questioning everything :)
  17. MedHead macrumors regular

    Mar 2, 2009
    Cork, Ireland
    From one med student to another, I've used both and I settled with Office purely because i had a few formatting issues with docs that classmates and lecturers had sent me. While Pages is nice for making documents look good it really doesnt have much (if anything) over Word. Keynote is far better that powerpoint in terms of the polished look it gives presentations however i had a bit of trouble when i exported to .ppt to use it on a uni computer. I didnt really play wirh numbers so i cant advise on that. What I would say is to download the trial version of iWork and give it a try, it really doesnt hurt to give it a shot.

    Office has a somwhat familiar feel to it and really doesnt take much getting used to coming from office 2007 on PC. I also really like the notebok view in Office its really handy for lectures and seminars.

    Just my €0.02

    EDIT: The academi standard referred to is talking about the academic version of office (Home and student edition) I'd recommend getting the full version, i got it for like €75 through college.
  18. PolySciSurfer macrumors 6502

    Jan 9, 2009
    I can't believe you didn't gather this information as common sense, during undergrad. Anyone who has been on earth in the last 10 years, especially in the academic setting, knows office is the standard. How did you write your papers during undergrad? This guy is ridiculous... :rolleyes:
  19. Jigsawjammer macrumors regular

    Apr 29, 2009
    I say get iWork and try it out. It is cheap enough when you buy a mac because you get a discount. I plan on getting it and seeing how it goes. I'm more concerned if I could open my powerpoints in keynote and use them since I have a lot and use them repeatedly. If you get use to iWork and like it, then it is always a lot cheaper to buy the newest version when you need to. Office really should be a bit cheaper especially the student version or they should just sell individual programs.
  20. opinioncircle macrumors 6502a


    May 17, 2009
    As a business student, I'm going to get Office on my UMB when I'll buy it. I'm too used to Office to try anything new. I've tried Open Office under Linux and it worked well, but the formatting made me download the 90 days trial of Office 07 to get my papers and presentation to work with people that were using Microsoft Office.
  21. ziggyonice macrumors 68020


    Mar 12, 2006
    Rural America
    Look at it this way:

    If you're a switcher from a PC to a Mac, iWork is more familiar of an experience than Office.
  22. sushi Moderator emeritus


    Jul 19, 2002
    You could always do a combination.

    Get Parallels or VMware Fusion, a copy of Windows XP OEM install, and a copy of Office 2003 or 2007.

    Then set up a Virtual PC on your Mac. You have 100% compatibility. Plus you get Access which is not available on the Mac version. You also use VBA.

    Then get iWork for the Mac side. That way you get the best of both sides and have the most flexibility.
  23. gerabbi macrumors regular

    Feb 8, 2009
    I'm not a med student my vote is to go with iWork it's free for 30 days and download OpenOffice it's totally free. I have both of these programs and can handle most everything the MS world throws at me. I've only ran across one doc with a lot of intense formatting that these 2 could not handle and I believe that had something to do with the client's sending in the doc in the first place, and it was eventually resolved by resending the doc after wasting about 2 hours. The point is for a small investment of download time you can try both of these programs and see if they fit what you need to do, ymmv.
  24. thejadedmonkey macrumors 604


    May 28, 2005
    I use MS Office. It gets the job done, and this way I never have to worry that it won't be compatible. The fact that it was free for me was a nice plus.
  25. secondfox macrumors member


    Apr 10, 2009
    I have both iWork 08 and Office 08 (and 07).

    I use Word and Excel from Office. The formatting options in those programs work a lot better for me and give me more options. I'm pretty sure that when you need to do advanced things like mail merging and complex formulas (and using Solver) that Office is much better.

    However, Keynote smokes PowerPoint, imho. When I use Keynote to present after someone uses ppt, people are sucked into my presentation. Keynote is more solid, reliable, is easier to figure out, and has amazing effects. To be honest, it was the killer app that made me get a Mac. No regrets. I have a lot of pastor/evangelist friends that made the switch for these reasons. Now university people are asking me what program I'm using to present.

    @Kasakka - Actually, effects are nice when they are not overdone. I have had lots of people tell me they like the sparkle.

    @OpenOffice people - OpenOffice works better for me on PC than Mac. Yes, I have played around with it a lot. The great thing about it is that it is free. I recommend it to a lot of people for that reason. But if a person needs serious functionality, then Office is better. Plus, the Oo_O presenter program can't really compare to either PPT or Keynote. As much as I love open source and wish that it would.

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