Office 2011 for Mac has obviously been out for a while, I mean, since late 2010. And when it came out, the iWork products really didn’t hold a candle to Office. But, now with the new versions of Pages, Numbers, and Keynote that Apple released this past year, as well as made free, is Office 2011 still worth it? I’ll say this before I go in-depth: if you’re an Outlook user, hands down, yes, it is. But, let’s dig in.
When I bought my Mac back in August of 2012, my choices were iWork, which wasn’t cheap, or Office 2011 and sticking with what I already knew. I made the choice to stick with Office 2011, as I had been an Office user since 2003, and iWork cost about the same. I then began my trip down Office lane. After several months of using Office, Apple made iWork free to use, and I quickly jumped on that bandwagon. I quickly became a fan of iWork for their simplicity and ease of use, but Office still way overpowers iWork any day of the week. Let’s break it down program by program.
It’s tough to say which is better. Pages is very clean and streamlined, whereas Word is somewhat clunky by today’s standard. If you open up Pages, you’re presented with a very clean interface with a few buttons. Just enough in my opinion. When you open up Word, there is an overflow of buttons, which can overwhelm the average person. They both accomplish the same goal, just find different ways to do it. Word is more for the power user, and Pages is more for the every day person. Word also has many more features, most of which aren’t ever used by the normal user, but are mostly things that have to do with writing papers or books. If you’re a college student, though, Word has some very useful “extra features” that Pages doesn’t have, like easy bibliography and cover pages.
Keynote vs Powerpoint
In my opinion, Keynote is the clear winner here. Everything is so quick and easy, yet very powerful. I’ve never been one to make a ton of slideshows, but in my short experience with both programs, I preferred Keynote to Powerpoint, by far. Keynote simplifies the experience, makes everything easy to access. Powerpoint on the otherhand, has a ton of buttons that would confuse even a poweruser. I guess it’s all what you’ve used the longest. Powerpoint, to me, just has too many options. Slim it down some, eh Microsoft?
Numbers vs Excel
Excel is the clear winner here. While Numbers might make some things a little easier, there’s a reason there are college classes on Excel: it’s powerful. Way powerful. With Numbers, there are some Macros you can do, but Excel just blows Numbers out of the park with that functionality. Numbers has nice integration with iCloud, but Excel now integrates with OneDrive, so it’s the same. Also, Numbers doesn’t filter nearly as well as Excel does, in my opinion. While Numbers might be a little easier to pick up from the beginning, you’re going to be kicking yourself if you don’t learn Excel and you need spreadsheets.
I’ve got to say, I’ve put off using the real Outlook client for a while just for the sheer niceness of the Mail.app (or in my case, Sparrow. I’ve used both equally). I finally made the jump to the Outlook app here recently, and I have to say, best move I’ve ever made. The unified inbox works perfectly (yes, I’m one of those. When you’re monitoring 10+ emails, that’s a nice feature to have!). The calendar could use a little work, as I’ve still not figured out how to get the calendar from Outlook.com to sync with it, though it does integrate with iCal and Google Calendar simply right out of the gate! The only complaint that I have with Outlook is it doesn’t integrate with the Growl notification system that is built into OS X that so many other mail clients take advantage of. Granted, Growl really didn’t become widely used until after Outlook 2011 came out. There is still a custom built notification popup that comes with Outlook that gets the job done, for now. I hope to see a better notification system in the upcoming refresh of Office for Mac, and hope that comes soon!
So, should you buy Office 2011? Or even just an Office 365 subscription? Well, that’s up to you. I see a few reasons why one would buy Office 2011 / Office 365 over iWork if you don’t already have it.
- You need Outlook, it’s the superior mail client
- You have a use for better spreadsheets
- You’re an avid writer and would like the accessibility to easy bibliographies and cover pages
Other than that, I think you’re perfectly fine sticking with the new iWork and Mail.app / Sparrow. Maybe the refresh to Office for Mac will change my mind, but until then, I’m still going to rely on what I like best: iWork. Especially now that it allows you to export to Office formats, there’s really no reason for me to need anything but Outlook for what I do.
Do you prefer iWork or Office? Let us know in the comments!