I’m one of a diminishing handful of Mac360 staffers who live and breathe Microsoft Office for Mac. My business life has been tied to Word, Excel, Powerpoint, and especially Entourage for many, many years.
Office for Mac compatibility with Office for Windows is the reason. Office is the standard in business. Mac users who need that kind of file compatibility need Office for Mac. Or, do they? There’s a brand new Office 2008 for Mac users ready to download. Should I upgrade or wait or try something else?
My Mac life has revolved around Office for years. Entourage was an excellent Mac citizen back in the day. Email. Contacts. Planning and task management. All Mac like. The problem is Microsoft. Entourage hasn’t kept up with the times.
Sure, the Office for Mac feature list is as long as I am tall. The Home and Student edition is a mere $150. After that it gets ugly. The retail price for Office 2008 is $399. The upgrade version is $239.
Is it possible for a jilted Office lover to love again?
Jilted? The premise for using Office for Mac is compatibility. The same premise is used by business to buy Office for Windows. Everyone wants their files to be read by everyone else using the same program.
That saves training, saves time, and in business, time is money. The problem is that true file compatibility exists only in a perfect world. Even Windows has half a dozen versions of Office floating around, many with differing file formats.
Compatibility? Tell me about it. Some files are backwards compatible. Others are not. Some files can be saved with older Office formats, but users often forget to save or format correctly. Files have to be reformatted, or resent with correct formatting, and so on. It’s troublesome.
If file compatibility is troublesome at best, and the main reason for using Office, Mac or Windows, is file compatibility, why bother?
Another nail in the coffin of my love affair with Entourage is Microsoft’s announcement that Entourage is no more, to be replaced by a Mac version of Outlook in the next version of Microsoft Office for Mac.
Got that? It gets confusing. Unable to bring Entourage fully into the 21st century, Microsoft plans to give Mac users what they give Windows users. Literally and figuratively. Outlook. Why? Exchange Server.
I’ve used Outlook on Windows and it’s a powerful application. You know those Outlook for Dummies books? I figure I’ll need all four volumes. Microsoft wants to give me a complex beast at a time in my life where I want ease of use, elegance, and something that just works; hopefully together and all at once.
Click Here for the latest details for Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac. At first, it appears to be a compelling list. Top of the list is compatibility with Windows Office. Then, Word, Excel, Powerpoint and Entourage.
Not much detail for why I should upgrade, huh? Some Mac users may opt for the Business Edition which adds better support for Exchange, the Web Services Edition and other goodies. Like fonts. And clip art. And training by lynda.com.
Impressed? I’m not. I want to be. But I’m not. I’ve been trying out other solutions for my basic needs to ensure that my future digital life works for me, rather than me working to pay more to Microsoft every couple of years.
I’ve dipped into using Mail, iCal, Address Book, all free with your Mac, with iWork ‘09, about half the price of Office for Student and Home. I’m also looking closely at Daylite and Billings, which seems to do a little of everything, but also seems to require a Mac system administrator.
Tryout camp wouldn’t be complete without a look at Google Docs, too. There’s twenty-seven eleven other solutions available, none attractive.
My initial inclination remains. Migrate completely from Office for Mac to what Apple provides. File compatibility is decent for basic documents using Pages, Numbers, and Keynote. Not perfect (but neither are the Windows versions), but decent.
One thing I want that isn’t available anywhere except Microsoft Office is cohesion between and within the apps. Apple’s integration of data is improved, and less of a silo experience than in years past. I want the last version of Office for Mac to be the last version I bought. For now, I’m working betwixt and between Office for Mac and Apple’s OS X counterparts.
What would you do? Drop Office entirely? Switch to OS X and iWork? Is there a better solution that offers cohesion and compatibility? Share your despair or answer with other Mac360 readers in the Comments section.