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Apple iWork ’08: A Comprehensive Review

Priced at just $79, iWork ’08 presents a compelling option for Mac users seeking an affordable office suite. The inclusion of the Numbers spreadsheet application adds significant value, particularly for those transitioning from Microsoft Excel. Historically, many Mac enthusiasts opted for Excel due to iWork’s lack of a spreadsheet tool. However, with Numbers now part of the package and the delayed release of Microsoft’s Office for Mac 2008 until January, users may find Apple’s offering more appealing.

Another noteworthy aspect is the consistency in file formats. Unlike Microsoft’s Office 2007, which introduced new file formats, iWork maintains compatibility with older formats. This means that iWork applications can seamlessly read and save documents in Microsoft’s newer formats, ensuring smooth interoperability for users.

Setup and Interface

Setting up iWork ’08 is a breeze, especially for users with older Macs, thanks to its modest system requirements. You’ll need a Mac with an Intel, PowerPC G5, or G4 processor clocking at least 500MHz, along with a minimum of 512MB of RAM, running OS X10.4.10. In our testing, installation took around 10 minutes.

One of the highlights of iWork is its clean and minimalist interfaces across the suite. While its feature set might not rival the depth of Microsoft Office 2007, iWork maintains a familiar interface, unlike the radical changes seen in Office. Furthermore, iWork offers much more than basic productivity tasks found in online tools like Google Docs & Spreadsheets or the Zoho suite, making it suitable for a wide range of home and small-business users.


Pages ’08 takes a page from Microsoft Office’s playbook with its Contextual Format Bar, which adapts based on the task at hand. Whether you’re formatting text or editing images, the interface remains intuitive. Unlike Microsoft Word 2007, Pages lacks live previews but compensates with features like Change Tracking, akin to Word’s Track Changes. This integration extends to Microsoft Word files, ensuring compatibility.

In addition to essential features like footnotes and tables of content, Pages integrates seamlessly with charts and functions from Numbers. It also introduces automatic list formatting, simplifying document creation. With numerous templates and Page Layout mode for complex designs, Pages caters to various needs, from basic letters to intricate reports.


Keynote ’08 distinguishes itself with its simplicity and smart features absent in PowerPoint 2007. With 39 themes and new Action Builds for animations, creating captivating presentations is effortless. Smart Builds enable dynamic animations, while voiceover recordings enhance narrated presentations. Although lacking extensive controls, Keynote’s user-friendly interface ensures smooth creation and editing.


Numbers revolutionizes spreadsheet software with user-friendly novelties absent in competitive tools. While Microsoft Excel 2007 may offer more robust features, Numbers caters to the majority of users with its intuitive design. From templates for various purposes to drag-and-drop functionality, Numbers simplifies spreadsheet creation. It also boasts 3D charts and natural language shortcuts for common calculations.

Service and Support

iWork ’08 offers comprehensive support options, including searchable help menus, video tutorials, and user forums. Telephone support is available for installation and launch issues, with extended support available through AppleCare. Genius Bars and free workshops offer additional assistance.


The addition of Numbers strengthens iWork ’08 as a compelling alternative to Microsoft Office for Mac. While lacking an email application, iWork excels in text editing, spreadsheet creation, and presentation design. Numbers, though fledgling, offers sufficient features for most users. However, those reliant on advanced spreadsheet functionalities may prefer sticking with Excel. Overall, iWork ’08 prioritizes ease of use and aesthetics, making it an attractive choice for Mac users.


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