Weekly Poll: Microsoft Office or iWork?

Nothing gets the week started off right like a good old fashioned Microsoft vs. Apple debate. Once upon a time these were a staple in the Mac user’s daily life but these days we focus much more on Google and Android as a major threat than crazy Ballmer and the gang in Redmond.

For a moment, let’s look back at Microsoft and ask a question that’s essential for every new Mac user: Office or iWork? If someone is faced with the choice of purchasing only one of these suites, which should it be and why?

Only a few years ago iWork was a new competitor in this game but it’s had more than enough time to rise to the challenge of taking on the formerly undisputed champion of documents. The question is, has it? On the other side, while iWork has been increasing in popularity, Microsoft has been hard at work making Office seem more at home on the Mac. Office now closely resembles Apple’s software in both functionality and appearance.

So which is better? You decide! Cast your vote in the poll and then leave a comment below defending your opinion.


Add Yours
  • iWork’s killer feature for me is iCloud sync. When Mountain Lion is released I’ll have a complete solution between my iPad , iPhone and iMac.

  • Both are excellent
    For big work Office (preferable on Windows, Office for Mac is to hard to move around, slow thinker and buggy, but still for big work I would use Office)
    For small work, iWork (it has a much better prettier easy to move and think and stable interface, but it lacks the ability for big tables)

  • It really depends on whether interoperability is an important consideration. I use both, with Office running in a VM when I need it, and although the iWork suite can create very nice looking documents, and is easier to use in some cases, it mangles Word and Excel files that I need to exchange with colleagues. If the needs of the user are light I would skip both and start with an online suite like Google Docs or Microsoft’s Office Web Apps.

    My son’s middle school has just given all of the students in the academically gifted program Google Apps accounts so they can email the teacher and turn in assignments using Google Docs. The teacher (and parent) have the ability to read all the emails and documents.

  • I try my hardest to keep my distance from all of Microsoft products, so naturally I will say iWorks. I agree with Rafael that if you are working with extremely large tables, it would be best to use Office on a Windows PC, but when I’m on OSX, I don’t want anything from that disgusting company infecting my computer. (Not a big M$ fan if you can’t tell…)

    • And why is that? At the moment, Apple is the company trying to wrestle the most control away from users, not Microsoft.

      • Ever heard of something called bloatware? I’ll speak slowly so you stupid Windows users can understand: bloatware. is. bad. it. happens. when. a. company. called. Microsoft. tries. to. put. forty. gigabytes. worth. of. crap. on. your. computer. Sure, Apple may control their user interface, but at least they do it right.

  • I’ve looked into iWorks via a friend’s setup, and I think it’s prefectable sound and well done overall, aside from some paradigms that don’t work for the interactive business side. But that’s also the catcher in the end. Office, hands down for both work and play, since I’ve to the have the work side for interacting with people globally (literarly)… and iWorks can’t touch it in the later, and the of course there’s Open Office for those who can’t afford Office and still wanna be part of the team. Heck, all of the tree doc types either can create are also compatible with three major Android packages (not just do readers either), and of those major packages is free as well

    Office vs iWorks? Oh come one… we all live in a big world… not a box.

  • Today I avoid both. It’s better to use plain text. Let the end use decide what’s best for styling.

  • As a science student, I end up using Microsoft Word for writing up lab reports, because iWork doesn’t have the powerful captioning/cross-referencing capabilities of Office.

    Trust me: I’ve had my fair share of crashes/formatting errors with Office 2011, enough to make anyone switch to an alternative. Unfortunately, I’m much too used the features in Word to migrate to something else. Maybe iWork 201X will be a game-changer. I hope.

    • As a science student, you should be using LaTeX!

      • It’s true LaTeX is your only friend, I never known anyone write scientific paper using MS-Office/OpenOffice/iWorks.

  • I’m using LibreOffice and for what I do, it’s more than enough. I like open source apps if they are up to the task. In may case I don’t really need a very powerful word processor.


  • I like having both, but I end up using iWork most often. Having used Office for years in PC world (at home and at the office), and then purchasing Office for Mac when I thought I really needed it, I decided to start using iWork due to all the crashing I experienced from Word. Yes, Office is a heavy lifter in the “office administration” field, but it is still ugly and clunky compared to iWork. Eventually, I hope iWork will have other features. However, the kicker here is price, and functionality. For the home user (Mac based), one can’t do wrong with iWork. It does so much, and does it well. I can’t say the same for Office (on the PC or on the Mac).

  • I used to use iWorks back when it was AppleWorks (on 10.2? 10.3 Macintosh on a now-seven/eight year old Mac Mini), and preferred it over MS Office at the time. I’ve since trial’d all the latest versions of both MS Office and iWorks, and I think I’ll stick to LibreOffice/Google Docs for now.

  • I use Office for office and other “big” works. For personal and funny stuff that I would share with my family and friends – I use iWork.

    Both are useful.

    Interoperability is more for Office, obviously.


  • IWorks all the way. Office is a dog’s breakfast. Libreoffice, neooffice, OpenOffice are great alternatives for collaboration. With these alternatives there’s always minor compatability issues, but no greater than between generations of MS office itself. :P

    The argument I always hear against using Numbers though makes no sense. Sure it doesn’t handle massive tables, but if you’re using massive tables you should be using a database rather than a spreadsheet. Any massive chunk of data needs the integrity checks, compartmentalization and robustness that a DB provides.

  • Office, Office, Office.
    Pages is a joke: it’s usably only for making two-page Christmas newsletters. It sucks at layout and it certainly sucks at word processing.

    I use a word processor (with a fair amount of its arsenal of tools) on a daily basis, and since I switched to Mac, that hasn’t been a pleasure until the appearance of Office 2011 (I do admit Office 2004/08 were terrible). iWork is crash prone and limited. For a simple home user it’d be about even money. But for anybody who actually processes text: STAY CLEAR of Pages!

    With Numbers vs. Excel it’s about the same. Numbers is fine for managing your daughter’s softball team, but for anything more complicated it just… doesn’t work.

    The only thing iWork has going for it is Keynote which is far superior to PowerPoint.

  • I think it’s very complicated. You can’t choose just one application, it always depents on who you are working with.
    My favorite office application is iWorks but I can only use it for private stuff that I won’t share with anyone because there aren’t much people I know which use Macs. For work I need MS Office and most of my fellow students use Openoffice therefore I use LibreOffice. I also like Google Docs but unfortunately I need my documents offline.
    It’s a mess. Why isn’t there one application that supports every office document format equally well?

  • iWork all the way, personally. I primarily use it for Keynote- it seems that the primary conversation in this article is over Word/Pages, so I thought I’d chime in about something else first. Keynote blows PowerPoint away for ease of use and features- sure you have to run it off your own Mac and you can’t just bring your file along on a usbkey to plug into a windows machine, but given how light MacBook Airs/iPads are that’s generally a non issue these days. The youth that I mostly work with I generally find to be more attentive with a nicely polished presentation over PowerPoint blandness.
    Pages and Numbers aren’t as powerful as Word and Excel, sure, but they tie in nicely with the rest of the iWord apps for keeping data synced across files, and have Apple’s design to back them up for usability.

  • LaTeX for structured documents.
    .txt for everything else, formatting occurs when I move material to the web or to pre-press.

    • Same here, LaTeX for bigger documents. Easy with reference, table of content, notes, …

      For smaller things I use iWork.
      Office isn’t even installed on my Mac ;)

  • No doubt that Keynote and Numbers are more user friendly than PowerPoint and Excel! I use Pages for smaller stuff like formatting text I got off the web and need to print, while for bigger works LyX is my editor of choice (but I may change to raw LaTeX soon). I hope that the release of 10.8 will bring us a new version of iWork because I’m still running iWork 08 and really want to upgrade!

  • iWork Because it’s support Arabic instead of Microsoft doesn’t support arabic on MAC.

  • Office for me. I would choose iWork, but it’s not popular enough to be in most works, libraries, or for me, school. Its stupid to have to keep a separate .doc copy of the file just so I can edit it in school. Until theres a simply and easy way to convert .ipages to .doc on the fly, I’m stuck with Office

    • I made myself an AppleScript for this, just drag the Pages document onto it and it’ll save a copy as .doc.

  • Really like working with the IWork suite of programs, especially Keynote, just wish there were more free templates. Also the transition from OSX to IOS in ICloud could be a little less combersum. When this becomes a smoother process I will be all onboarb.

  • Really like working with the IWork suite of programs, especially Keynote, just wish there were more free templates. Also the transition from OSX to IOS in ICloud could be a little less combersum. When this becomes a smoother process I will be all onboard.

  • Open source all the way. Enjoy being slaves.

  • I use Keynote because it’s a better, more intuitive, flexible program and I don’t have to share my presentations – just do them. I don’t use Numbers after a try out. No oomph AND no compatibility with Excel.

    But to me Apple’s lost opportunity was Pages. I tried Pages – nice little program – but as soon as I found out that I not only couldn’t save as Word for forwarding/sharing docs, but also had to go through a stoooopid multi-step “Export” process – leaving me with two copies of every doc (and even if I then wanted to go and delete one copy, new versions of the OS are making that harder). Just what the world needed. Another proprietary doc format.

    And I’ve never heard a single technical reason why Apple couldn’t have reverse-engineered a save as doc format. Open Office and WordPerfect seem to have mastered it after all (and I can view my received Word attachments in Google Docs with a click without downloading), tho’ none do a perfect import or saving job.

    But in a larger sense I’m getting very concerned about Apple’s Sony-like approach to matters like this. (A la Betamax, Memory Sticks, Atracs, Minidisc, etc., etc.) It’s one thing with iBooks where iPad is the dominant tablet (by a large margin) and the near-exclusive one in K-12 and huge college share – and by all indications, in the Enterprise/SMB/and many vertical markets – and there are clear innovations and advances in the format, but it’s entirely another when Word’s the lingua franca of editable docs and has been for well over a decade.

    I use Apple for my media, and AAC is superior but they always offered mp3 as well.

    Long as things can only be saved directly as Pages, not gonna be any market share gains. So I’ll definitely be buying Word for iPad (and Keynote) and luckily I’m past having to worry about spreadsheets much, so the Excel on my computer will do me.

    Same with “Messages” in Mountain Lion – great as long as a) you have the very latest Apple Gear – b) so do you friends and c) you both know that each other has it. Otherwise, what happens? Do your messages just go into the ether? And iPhone may be the world’s best selling single smartphone, but it and Macs hardly make up close to a majority of the devices which can already share messages over other channels.

    Meanwhile, I seem to recall that Facetime was going to be an open API available at least for licensing. So another Apple ghetto based on if you want it, you’ve got to go with Apple “lock-in.” I could go on…… …but bottom line there’s a slight (to more than slight) sense of growing arrogance coming out of Cupertino, which may work for them for awhile, but may eventually rebound.

    …but I’ll end by asking how’s that “Ping” workin’ out for y’all?

  • LIBRE OFFICE! A truly amazing office suite, multi-platform (Linux, OSX, Windows) and free.

  • I’d use Pages (I have no need for the full suite) if I don’t need to share the file. In anything that doesn’t have a simple layout (my resume for example), Pages completely ruins the .doc version. I usually just save/send things as PDF files, but in my job hunt, there have been times where a .doc was my only option.

    I’ve been using Google Docs lately though because I’m cheap/poor, and I hate that LibreOffice doesn’t allow you to only install Writer.

  • Pages trumps Word pretty much all the time – it’s far simpler to use and I like the results it produces.

    If I’m doing economics-related work, then I use LaTeX.

  • I personally feel both are quite adaptable and helpful in its specific enviorment

  • Back in the day when I was a student iWork 09 was a pain to use because it lacked a lot of features.

    For example, in Pages there’s no formula builder.

    No way to insert a single landscape oriented page into the portrait oriented document.

    No bibliography/reference management tools.

    No hyphenation for my language and it doesn’t understand the soft-hyphen char either. (While TextEdit.app does both things well).

    No way to rotate text in a table cell.

    Pages is unable to split a cell on a page break.

    Lots of problems with numeration and lists.

    In Numbers there’s no Solver. It also lacked some simple functions, but I cba to look up which were those now — haven’t used the program for a long time.

    What’s good about iWork is that it looks ‘native’ to OS X, it’s cheap and works pretty fast.

  • I use Scrivener for larger projects, and TextEdit is good enough for daily use (taking down notes, brainstorming, to-do-lists).

    Microsoft office exists because the majority of people around me are using it, I need it for formatting documents and mostly to open what other people have sent me. I convert most of my personal documents to pdf files for viewing.

    Keynote is way better than Powerpoint, Excel is still the king of spreadsheet programs though.

  • I am still in the process of having all Apple computers in my house and therefore I have both PCs and Apples. For my situation I prefer the Apple iWorks, because to me it is cleaner and easier to use. It wouldn’t surprise me if MS Office has a lot more features and power under the hood, but I don’t need a Ferrari nor do I want to spend the money on one. My Subaru works just fine. So with that said, my iWorks does a great job, it makes me look good, and I don’t feel like I need to go to the community college and take a course on how to use it. The other great thing is that I have an iPad and iPhone, and with the iCloud keeping all my devices up to date …well I find it wonderful and extremely easy.

  • Office for me. Sometimes, I do some work from the office at home. At work, I’m in a Windows-based environment. So I’m stuck with Office for Mac. It would be nice if iWork supported export to MS Office 2007/2010-formats, and not alone the older ones. And indeed, I have to export the document to the older Office-formats for exchanging with my office-computer, then I have to resave it at work as a .docx for example. That process is far too complicated. So export to .docx would be a nice thing. For now, iWork is not wright tool for me.