What Office software suite for your Mac?

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Apple logoTheAppleBlog has written a piece that hails Microsoft’s Office 2008 for Mac as the final nail in the coffin for Apple’s lacklustre iWork package.

The nail may just be in the coffin. Those of you who were paying attention last week may have seen the many screenshots of Office 2008 for Mac floating around. While it’s tough to gauge an application package as big as Microsoft Office on just a few screenshots, what we are seeing looks very promising.

Perhaps the most interesting screenshot shows off Office Art 2.0, the graphics behind Office 2007 for Windows and Office 2008 for Mac. Not only does Office Art appear to deliver some amazingly powerful graphics tools (like SmartArt), it appears that Microsoft has taken the power of OSX’s GUI to heart and built a (dare I say) beautiful application.

You don’t often hear “Microsoft”, “Apple”, and “beautiful application” in the same breath, so that’s quite some claim. Given that Office is (unfortunately) the global standard for office software, it’s going to be hard for even the most hardened Apple fan who needs to be connected with PC owning peers to avoid it.

iWork just doesn’t cut it yet, and could have years to go before it even becomes a credible alternative to Office when interoperability is the key. It only has two applications – Keynote and Pages – and of those only Keynote is what I’d consider a great alternative to an Office app (PowerPoint). Pages is adequate, but it hasn’t got everything that Word has (not necessarily a bad thing). And as for a spreadsheet?

What do you think? What’s the best Office-like solution for Macs currently available?

Andy Merrett