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As much as Microsoft Office is considered the de facto standard for its category of application suites, it isn't actually the one we'd recommend everyone buy. Which is why Apple continues to offer regular updates to iWork, its package of office productivity programs.
As our various office tutorials attest, there are layers upon layers of functionality buried inside the various Office programs that most users will simply never find.
The problem with this, as mentioned in our Office 2007 review, is that when so much of that capability goes unneeded and unwanted, paying for it can deter some would-be buyers and leave a sour taste in the mouth of those that do stump up.
The raison d'être of iWork, then, is to offer an alternative to Office for Mac for those users that don't need the power under Office's surface. And, importantly, iWork also offers this substitute at a more attractive price point than Office. It's a methodology that has paid dividends in the past - iWork '08 striking us as a particular success.
Apple unsurprisingly claims its latest iteration of iWork is its best yet, with numerous advancements in Pages, Numbers and Keynote over last year's version. Some of these probably won't be of much use or interest to many users. There are a few, though, which really made me wonder: "how has this not been thought of before?"
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