Glenn “Da Blogfaddah” Reynolds is another convert to the world of iWork ’08 and Pages, Apple’s answer to Microsoft Office and Word.
I’ve been using Pages since it came out, and I love it. It isn’t perfect, but it’s somehow much more natural than using Microsoft Word. For one, it’s a Universal application so it runs much faster than Word on my Intel Macs. It’s also just more intuitive in a way that Apple’s apps tend to be in comparison to Microsoft’s applications. It isn’t something that’s easily quantifiable, but the way the program works just seems to involve less fighting to get what you want in comparison to Word. Using Word always ends up being a battle between what you intuitively want to do and Microsoft’s chosen way of doing things. Pages (and the rest of iWork ’08) doesn’t have that problem.
I’d guess it has a lot to do with the software engineering styles of Apple compared to Microsoft. I have a feeling that Apple either does more human interaction testing or has software developers with a better instinct for how people use software. My guess is that it’s the latter more than the former. User testing is great, but unless you “get it” in terms of application design, it often gets lost. Apple doesn’t go for the feature bloat that Microsoft embraces—which means that iWork doesn’t have some of the features of Office, but that the features it does have work much more intuitively than they do with Word.
Keynote already makes PowerPoint look like an amateur’s toy. Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth presentations were designed with Keynote, and even though the message may be questionable, the presentation is amazing. It looks like the rest of the package is following Keynote’s lead in becoming more than adequate replacements for their Office counterparts.
Pages has gone from a decent page-layout program to a perfectly workable replacement for Word. In fact, I’ve done all my word processing with Pages, converted them to Word, and no one has been at all the wiser. That includes using Pages to work on law review articles with massive amounts of tracked changes.
iWork costs a pittance compared to Office. In fact, Keynote alone would be worth the $79 cost of the package for anyone who does presentations on a regular basis. The fact that it comes bundled with a worthy Word replacement and a decent spreadsheet app makes it even better. It isn’t quite an Office-killer, but since Microsoft is removing Visual Basic support for Office 2008 it may be just the opening that Apple needs.