Product Type: Apple in Office Suites
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iWork - the real alternative to Microsoft Office
Apple iWork '09
Member Name: TheRedTower
Apple iWork '09
Advantages: MS Office compatible, easy installation, excellent value for money, good continuity between apps
Disadvantages: slightly dated user interface in places
iWork 09 is the latest version of Apple's smallish business software suite.
Comprised of Pages, Numbers and Keynote and priced at around £60 it make for a compelling purchase when compared to Microsoft Office and it's prohibitive price tag.
Installation is simple enough, you just have to run an installer package and go through a couple of simple steps. One thing I noticed during this was that Apple seem to have dropped using serial numbers (iWork '08 had them.)
On to the individual programs:
Pages - A reasonably simple but capable word processor. One of the standout new features for me was the full screen writing mode. Very useful when distractions in other bits of the screen stop you working. It also has a wide range of predefined templates that are actually well designed (something else iWork has over Microsoft Office.) Pages can also open and save as Word documents. Handy in a mixed office environment or if you don't want to subject yourself to Word itself.
Numbers - Apple's alternative to Excel. It does what it does with style, forgoing the usual infinite axis grid of cells for the option of drawing separate tables. It has been improved with additional mathematical functions and templates.
Keynote - The crown jewel in Apple's 'business' software in this reviewer's opinion. Keynote is the equivalent of Powerpoint, but puts it to shame with it's text control and design. The transitions and builds, whilst showy, ooze quality, as do the templates.
A new addition to the iWork family is iWork.com, an online repository that allows you to share your documents with others or access them remotely. This, whilst useful, is still in beta and subject to change (further comment is reserved until it reaches it's final release.)
My only criticism of this suite of applications is the 'Inspector', the tool palette that is common to all of the apps. It looks a little dated in comparison to the rest of the software, it's layout and design could do with a tweak or two. This is only a minor factor and doesn't really hamper my use of the apps.
Overall, iWork 09 represents excellent value for money and makes producing documents a pleasure.
Summary: A great value alternative to Microsoft Office
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