Pages vs Word

A quick look at Apple Pages vs Microsoft Word

The New York Times has a fairly glowing review of Apple’s word processor, Pages in comparison with Microsoft Word.

The review notes that Pages has a less cluttered interface which may suit some people with basic editing needs.

But some features like vertical ruler and shortcuts have been removed entirely from the latest release with Apple now promising to return some items in the future. Could you imagine the screams and derision if Microsoft tried that with Word? There’d be rioting in the streets of Redmond.

Sharing of documents is glossed over in our view. Sure, you can use iCloud to share a document and edit it but it’s not that easy. Most people will not be happy to open up yet another web editor just to edit the document you sent; and that’s assuming they have the fast Internet access necessary. Like the online sharing options from Microsoft and Google, Apple assumes everyone is comfortable using their system.

In reality, most documents are still shared via email and that’s where Pages falls down. Its native format, .Pages, can’t be opened in Word or Google Docs. The sender has to File | Export | Word to .doc format. Pages can open and save .docx files (it’s buried a bit deeper at File | Export | Word | Advanced Options ) .  Apple has a lengthy compatibility table.

The main takeaway from the review is how complicated things are these days. With people split between Windows and Mac as well as iOS and Android devices plus a minority on Windows devices – there’s no good answer for the common situation of viewing and editing documents across a mix of devices. Lots of people have Windows on their desktop plus Apple or Android gadgets to walk around with but no really good or consistent suite of Office apps to use.

One thing you can’t fault Apple on is the price for their iWork suite. It’s free on most Mac computers bought after 1 October 2013. iOS devices (iPhone or iPad) bought after 1 September 2013 get the iOS versions free. The history and pricing of the iWork/iLife/Pages/Numbers/Keynote software is complicated, check the Apple site or iTunes store to see what you qualify for.  Suffice to say that it’s a far cry from Microsoft’s $100 annual subscription.

Update:  We’ve obliged to Jim K for pointing out the Pages can save to .docx – we’ve amended the article accordingly  plus his explanation of iWork/iLife pricing history.

A follow-up comment from reader, Don C.

I am an avid fan of Apple’s products, be it hardware, software, OS, or iOS devices. But I am in full agreement with your assessment of Pages v. Word. Pages is a extremely easy to learn and use, and quite feature-rich for its price point, but in no way can it match Word for use in an Enterprise, unless your Enterprise has somehow managed to insulate itself from the need to share documents with the other 90% of the computing world.

Frankly, Word for Mac 2011 is not a match for Word 2010 for Windows, either, but at least the .doc and .docx files are mostly compatible and can match most features (notably, Track Changes).


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