As dreary as the Mac vs. Windows wars are, this dilemma has beguiled many a Mac user who debates on which productivity suite to choose. Windows came up with Microsoft Office for Mac, while Apple has retained its iWork suite from 2009, only having updated to accommodate OS X Lion and Mountain Lion users with the celebrated iCloud service.
Before the proverbial boxing match begins, I feel that I should share my background in computing. I’m a university student, writer, and an avid Apple product consumer. I’ve had my 13″ MacBook Pro since 2010, and it has since ushered me into the Cupertino company’s realm: I found myself relying too heavily on the Macintosh ecosystem because it just works. I was so glad with how seamless the services between devices were, and now that I’m writing this blog entry on my laptop, I know that I can pick up where I left off on my iPhone. Or iPad. Or my brother’s iPod Touch.
MS Word vs. Pages
I would have equally ushered in the productivity suite Apple offers, iWork ’09, but it is much more complicated, having scratched the fancy aluminum surface. There seems to be a ton of compatibility issues between Windows and Mac devices using different programs. I recall writing a research article with Pages, only to find out that the APA formatting had completely gone awry once exported and opened on a Windows computer running MS Word. MS Word isn’t even hard to use in the first place: everybody uses it, and I admire how concise the user interface is on Word. This is what I primarily seek in a word processor: conciseness and usability. Pages, on the other hand, has a more concise user interface albeit less elegant than that of Word. Formatting isn’t hard to work with: someone familiar with the Apple ecosystem will feel at home with using Pages.
Another sweet advantage with the iWork suite is that if you’re on OS X Lion or Mountain Lion, iCloud automatically syncs and saves your work. However, with the compatibility issues that arose with my Pages document, I think it’s still worth staying with MS Word until iWork fixes these flaws.
MS PowerPoint vs. Keynote
As a university student, I have to give dozens of presentations for classes, and I believe almost anyone who has used Keynote will say that MS PowerPoint is no match for the concise elegance that Keynote offers. With Keynote, there are endless ways to make one’s platitudinous presentation the most mind-blowing oratory ever given. The transitions, the background, and the countless options that are extremely difficult to come up with PowerPoint, just show themselves explicitly and beautifully in Keynote. I noticed this myself, as I find myself more motivated to create presentations with Keynote.
I was also able to compress dense material and suck the marrow out of lecture time because the presentations just worked. They just did. Typical Apple. I wouldn’t even bother with compatibility issues since I use my MacBook Pro to give presentations, although this is another crucial issue to look at. To be honest, I haven’t exported a Keynote presentation to a Windows computer to be opened with PowerPoint.
And the winner is…
All in all, there is no general winner between the two: for a writer and a university student like me, there are desirable aspects found in both suites. Because of its universal compatibility, I use MS Word to write papers, edit research articles, and generally do my research. When I present in front of the class, however, Keynote never fails to astound them. Using Keynote to present ideas written down in a table napkin in a café has always been a crowd-pleaser, thanks to its beautiful yet natural transitions and effects.
It is amazing to realize how much these productivity suites have adjusted themselves to cater not only to office personnel, but to creative minds as well. MS Office cannot simply be called “Office” anymore since majority of its users are outside the stereotypical office context. Same goes for iWork; maybe someday Apple will release iWork Creative Suite, because these programs have transcended outside the office setting.
After all, it all depends on the user since the debate over functionality is now moot: both iWork and Microsoft Office have all the features one could want from a productivity suite. Should you go for reliable, time-tested software over tactful elegance and simplicity? Should you go for a more creative interface at the expense of universality? Leave your comments down below and let me know whether you prefer iWork or MS Office.