Earlier this week, Microsoft announced versions and pricing for Office 2008 for Mac. According to TUAW, there will be three different versions to chose from: Microsoft Office 2008 for the Mac for $399.95, Microsoft Office for the Mac Home and Student Edition for $149.95, and Microsoft Office for Mac Special Media Edition for $499.95. Other than the Home and Student Edition, consumers will get a break on the price if they are upgrading from a previous version.
Professionals will most likely need to go with the standard or Special Media Edition in order to get Exchange support, but home users will be well served by the Home and Student Edition. This edition will compete directly with Apple’s iWork and free services from Google including Gmail, Google Calendar, and Google Docs. Home and student users will need to really take some time to determine if they can live with only being able to work with these products online. If they can, they may be able to save $150 and use Google’s services instead. If they need to be able to work offline, Apple’s iWork may be an option. The suite is maturing, and it now has all of the same applications that are included in Office other than Entourage, and Entourage can easily be replaced by the Mail, Address Book, and iCal applications included on every Macintosh.
With Apple’s and Google’s applications available to home and student users, Microsoft will have a very difficult time convincing these users that they need to upgrade to the latest and greatest version of Office. I, for one, will not be running out and buying Office this time around. It just doesn’t make sense for me to spend money on a productivity suite from Microsoft when there are cheaper or free alternatives.
For all of us that have been telling our friends and co-workers to save their Microsoft Office 2007 files using the Office 2003 formats, we can finally stop worrying about it. Apple’s recently released iWork ’08 supports Microsoft’s Open XML formats that are the default files formats for Office 2007. While iWork can only read these formats at this time, I fully expect Apple to add the ability to write to these formats in an update soon. What’s funny about the whole situation is that Apple actually beat Microsoft to the punch with this release because Microsoft has yet to release a non-beta file converter for Office 2004. Full support for the Open XML formats is not expected in Office for Mac until the 2008 version that will be released in early 2008. If Apple can provide full read/write support for the Open XML formats in iWork by then, they have the chance to really increase their market share. There’s also another great reason for Mac users to switch from Office to iWork. iWork costs only $79 compared to the hundreds of dollars that Microsoft charges for Office. How can you beat that?
Okay, I’d like to apologize for taking almost a month to comment on what happened at Macworld last month. Every time I’ve tried to sit down and write anything, something else comes up, or I find myself passed out on the couch. Anyway . . . as expected, Apple (AAPL) came out with some really great new stuff. The Intel Macs came out six months early starting with the new iMac. From what I’ve read, these things scream when they’re using software written for the Intel processors inside of them. Even with the transition layer, old PowerPC software runs very well. I really think that once all software has transitioned to run natively on Intel Macs, individuals and businesses will think twice about buying a Windows (or is it Windose) machine. The Macs will look and run too well to pass up.
Apple also introduced the new MacBook Pro which is pretty much the notebook computer I’ve been waiting for all these years. If only I could justify the cost to get one. Hey, if any of you have a suggestion on how to convince my wife and me to get one of these, I’m open to suggestions.
Apple also updated the iLife and iWork packages. I have to tell you, I wouldn’t enjoy working with digital photos and digital movies nearly as much without iPhoto and iMovie at my disposal. Those two programs make it so easy! Then there’s iTunes. I think no comment is necessary about how iTunes has changed the world.
Anyway, that’s my wrap-up of the announcements at Macworld. I can’t wait to see what Steve Jobs has up his sleeve for the next Apple event. Until then . .