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Apple iWork '09 - iWork 09 - Conclusions

By Hugo Jobling



  • Recommended by TR
Apple iWork '09


Our Score:



Unlike the transition between Office for Mac 2004 to 2008, or even iWork '06 to '08, the latest update to Apple's productivity suite does feel very incremental. Keynote's improvements are all superficial, Numbers doesn't really add any features most users will notice and Pages is frankly just a bit more Word-y.

That the improvements brought by iWork '09 are minor, though, is really a testament to how good its predecessors were, not a slight on the package itself. The changes are at least enough to make the upgrade feel warranted, rather than an obvious attempt to fleece upgrade-aholic customers out of their cash.

Apple is asking £69 for single iWork '09 license, versus £80 for Microsoft Office for Mac 2008 Home and Student Edition (the one anyone in their right mind would buy). And that poses a problem.

Office is almost negligibly more expensive than iWork and it's the more capable office suite. It's user interface is a little slicker, it inarguably has more power available to be tapped, should it be needed, and there is the inescapable "it's Office, you have to use Office" factor to consider.

However, iWork is undeniably very good and I defy any casual user to notice much difference, in terms of what they can do, between it and Office. Unless Office's greater accessible power is needed, the decision is really one of personal preference, not product superiority.


iWork '09 isn't that much of an upgrade from its predecessor. However, it remains a slightly less powerful and flexible but nonetheless capable alternative to Microsoft's application package and is still cheaper to boot.

Overall Score


Scores In Detail

  • Value 9
  • Usability 8
  • Features 8


February 19, 2009, 3:07 pm

Now a review of OpenOffice 3 and comparing it to MS Office and iWork would be great :)


February 19, 2009, 4:36 pm

I'm hesitant to add anything here as history has proven that any negative comment about Microsoft or their products on an Apple based article will be immediately met by fanboy flames... But still, what's an AppleBoy to do!?

I actually had no idea that you could pick up MS Office so cheaply for the Mac, I had assumed that it was only available at the extortionate prices that I remember it being from my PC days. But still, if you appreciate the structure of OS X, the cleanliness, the integration, and the similarity of it all. If you've ever heard of Apple's Human Interface Guidelines... Then you should pick up iWork, not Office.

This is based on the last version of Office for Mac, not the current version; Office infiltrates so many corners of your HDD, putting files and folders in places that no application should be putting files and folders. One of the many reasons that I and many other Mac user switched in the first place is the unorganised nature of apps in Windows. You have a collection of files in folders A, an entry in registration file B, bits of C all over the place.

OS X, 99% of the time doesn't have any of that! Unless you install Office on it, that is.

I would love to be proven wrong and be told that the latest versions have stopped doing this and have followed Apple's simple guidelines that even the smallest, most amateurish developers manage to follow.

Kashif Bhatti

February 19, 2009, 11:50 pm

Good review.

However, as a day-in, day-out user of both suites, I'd like to clear a few misunderstandings. Iwork '09 loads faster than any product of Office and unlike Office has yet to crash on me - Word or Excel is guaranteed to crash at the most inopportune moment at least once a fortnight. Word or Powerpoint does not have more power under the 'hood, and only Excel has more functions - but even then, Excel for PC is more powerful.

The argument that one must have Office for the millions (and millions) of people out there does not stand with this iteration of Iwork - Thanks to Iwork.com, I regularly share files with PC owners. It is true, some formatting is lost in .doc conversion, but then again, newer office suites and their .docx format are just as 'incompatible' with the many many people who just have Office 2004 (every computer in the NHS!).

Apple's moto - keep it simple, stupid. And it works.


February 20, 2009, 2:45 am

I'ld like to make a correction.

You don't need to get out of Full Screen Mode on Pages to use the Inspector. You can just need to use the keyboard shortcut (cmd + alt + i )


February 20, 2009, 4:22 pm

@ Cub - You really should try the latest version of Office for mac. Its a vast improvement over the last one (which I agree was pretty poor and way too unstable). It actually doesn't feel like a Microsoft product at all. And Kashif every computer in the NHS can read docx files because there was an update released around when Office 2007 was released to allow older versions of Office to read 2004 files. Every so often you need a more permanent upgrade. Think of Office 2004 to 2007 as Mac OS 9 to OS 10.


February 21, 2009, 2:29 am

Evren - I'll consider it. Not a fan of Open Office, though.

edoreld - I never thought to try that... oops. It would be nice if the Inspector blended into full screen mode a little more still, though.

Kashif Bhatti

March 2, 2009, 8:21 pm

@aaron... not computers (a month ago) in the south... and definitely not (last week) in mersey/north yorkshire!


July 28, 2009, 8:05 pm

Is there an estimate on the timetable for the release of Office 2010 for Mac?

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