With the release of the new Office:Mac 2008, which in all honestly is some beautiful software (Unlike the PC version! I now cringe when someone say's "ribbon"), iWork is something that will always be overlooked due customers being 'scared' of new software. But with iWork competitively being cheaper than its Microsoft counterpart, how does the latest edition, 09, compare?
One thing that always put me off the previous version of iWork was Pages, which I felt was the weakest point of the software as it just isn't as in depth at Word from Office. Few changes have been made to 09, but any that are included are for speed purposes. The template screen when you open up either Pages, Numbers or Keynote is a welcome addition, as is the slightly different interface which has fatter tabs and buttons in the tool bar. But if you were looking for radicals improvements over the previous version of Pages, then you may feel left out. Saying this, Pages is still a perfectly acceptable word-processing application for at home, and has fantastic image and template layouts. But for Students who regularly need to switch to Office's Word, think again - though they do work with each other, compatibility for the formatting still isn't 100%.
Numbers is actually an app I've always preferred to Excel from Office. To me, it's simpler, more customizable, and easier to form Sum's. This is probably the most updated program of the package, and with the updated graphics/templates, you can again create some even better documents. This is something I find Excel lacks, though to be fair, graphs and spreadsheets can easily be dragged over to Word/PowerPoint.
KeyNote 09 now looks almost identical to Office 2008's PowerPoint, though this is of course a major plus; I love the new version of PowerPoint. Yet more themes have been added and the usual array of fancy slide transitions and effects outdo those of PowerPoint. If its the best looking presentations you want, then this is the app, but for speed, PowerPoint is still the quickest. Integration of the Apple Remote means you can now change your slides of both PowerPoint and KeyNote, which is excellent!
Overall, the changes are few and far to make this an essential purchase. I feel the price is pretty competitive with Office:Mac 2008, but it still feels just like a cut-down version. Never the less, this may be the idea - while I feel Office is still the best for a 'student', iWork is perfect just for at home, which a lot of people forget. If you've read my review for Office 2008, you'll note how I joked about the sheer number of Negative reviews from non-student adults who bought the Student version of Office, and were disappointed it had Academic features!