“With iWork ’08, Apple finally offers a software suite that presents Microsoft Office with a serious challenge for dominance on the Macintosh desktop. A brand-new spreadsheet program called Numbers joins new versions of the Pages word-processor and Keynote presentation package to create a low-priced alternative to the trio of Excel, Word, and PowerPoint. Unlike the freeware OpenOffice.org and NeoOffice, iWork isn’t an Office clone but a true alternative to Office—a graphics-centric suite in which all three programs are built on the same foundation, and all three are essentially graphics applications in which you position objects such as text, spreadsheet tables, and presentation slides on a drawing canvas. Apple’s suite can import Microsoft Office documents, including those created in Office 2007, and can export to the Office 97-2003 format, which Office 2007 can read,” Edward Mendelson reports for PC Magazine.
“Thanks to the graphics-canvas architecture of iWork, Numbers is the most significant new idea in spreadsheets in two decades. Unlike an Excel spreadsheet—essentially a grid with formulas in each cell—a Numbers document is a canvas that contains a many or as few tables, charts, graphics, text, or almost anything else as you care to add, in a layout that’s easy to tweak,” Mendelson reports.
“Numbers, at least in its first version, isn’t scriptable, which means that you can’t write simple or complex programs that automatically modify or create a table, as you can in Excel,” Mendelson reports. “Don’t be discouraged by these limitations, however, because Numbers has some impressive powers out of the box.”
“Microsoft Office 2004 for the Mac costs $149 for students and teachers, $399 for everyone else, and includes the Entourage mail client and PIM. In contrast, iWork ’08 costs $79 (direct) and works closely with the e-mail and information-management software already in OS X. I’m not sure that I could manage without Office on my Mac, but that’s because I do a lot of work with long, complex, automated documents. For graphics-intensive home, student, and small-office use, however, iWork isn’t merely a substitute for Office; in many ways, it’s an improvement,” Mendelson reports.
Full review (4 out of 5 stars, “Very Good”), including reviews of Pages and Keynote, here.