updated 11:35 am EDT, Mon August 13, 2007
iWork beats MS Office
Apple last week released the latest version of its iWork business software suite with support for Microsoft's own Open XML format. Microsoft's Mac Business Unit (MacBU) has yet to offer support for the company's own format, leading one industry analyst to describe the situation as "embarrassing" for the Redmond-based company. "This was the ultimate insult to injury," said Michael Gartenberg of Jupiter Research. "Not only has Microsoft not delivered the ability to read and write Open XML in its Mac Office, but at the end of the day, Apple was the one who delivered." Microsoft's planned Mac Office launch was recently delayed until mid-January of 2008 due to the shift to Open XML as Office 2008's native file format, as well as a slow shift in releasing conversion tools for support of older Office installations, according to Macworld UK.
The MacBU defended itself however, with one team member Brian Jones.
"The Mac Office folks have a ton of stuff they are working on for the next version, so it's not surprising that you aren't seeing full Open XML support until they reach that point."
Jupiter's research analyst paints a different picture, however.
"Office for the Mac is just not a real priority for Microsoft," Gartenberg said, adding that the situation is "not likely to change anytime soon."
The MacBU's marketing manager Amanda Lefebvre cited development issues as cause for the delay of Office 2008 for Mac.
"The transition to the new file format is one of several reasons the development cycle is longer with Office 2008," Lefebvre said. "Office 2008 will run natively on Intel- and PowerPC-based Macs with a Universal Binary [and] this transition necessitated a switch to a new set of development tools as well. The combination of these two technology shifts definitely impacted our schedule."
Gartenberg answered this claim as well, saying that "what this really shows is Microsoft's inability to ship software on time these days." The analyst further speculates that Microsoft will find it exceedingly difficult to win back those users who migrate to Apple's iWork while waiting for Office 2008 for Mac.
"Microsoft's let down its Mac customers," Gartenberg concluded.