Word documents, spreadsheets and presentations are files we often use on a regular basis, whether at home for general life admin or at work.
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- Unlock the full Microsoft Office experience with a qualifying Microsoft 365 subscription for your phone, tablet, PC, and Mac. Microsoft 365 annual subscriptions purchased from the app will be charged to your App Store account and will automatically renew within 24 hours prior to the end of the current subscription period unless auto-renewal is.
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- The Microsoft Office apps are free to download from the App Store (Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook) to any iPhone or iPad user running iOS 12 or later.
Microsoft Office (comprising of Word, Excel and Powerpoint) is an old-timer when it comes to word processing, spreadsheets and presentations. It was first announced as a package by Bill Gates on August 1, 1988, after the early success of MS Word (launched in 1983).
A staple software package for schools, universities and workplaces, almost everyone who has been to school in the last 15-20 years will likely have had some familiarity with using MS Office.
Following Microsoft’s initial domination in the world of software and operating systems, Apple came to the fore. Steve Jobs bought not only new hardware but also new software to the technology scene. Being a Microsoft program, Apple computers do not come stocked with MS Office, but instead encourage users to delve into their own business solution, iWork, comprising of Pages, Numbers and Keynote.
Here we take a look at the pros and cons of MS Office v iWork to help you uncover which software package is best for you:
The first key factor to consider when choosing between MS Office and Apple iWork is your operating system. iWork is available to use on Apple devices (Mac, iPad, iPhone) and can only be used on a Windows device via iCloud. Apple does not currently offer a compatible desktop version of their software. If you are using a Mac, however, you can download both MS Office and Apple iWork from the app store.
Using Pages, Numbers and Keynote are great when working solo or with other Mac users. In an office full of PC users, however, you may find compatibility issues when sending and receiving an iWorks file to/from your Mac. To try and resolve this issue, Apple has now made it possible to easily import and export files to popular Microsoft Office formats, such as .docx, .xlsx and .pptx, however fonts, layouts, image sizing can sometimes change when converting between file formats.
Convert iWork files to MS Office compatible file formats and vice versa for free using Zamzar.
Upon initial glance and taking a first look at the basic function, the two office suites perform in a very similar way, offering much of the same functionality. In many ways, iWork’s applications act as a like-for-like substitute for MS Office for your standard user. However, dig a bit deeper and you will begin to find differences between the two packages, each with their own pros and cons.
Many users find the simple, clean interface of the iWork suite more aesthetically pleasing than MS Office. Apple has stepped away from overwhelming menu options, leaving the most-utilised features easily accessible and intuitive to use without training. However, you could find the clean interface becomes a hindrance when you are creating more complex documents or spreadsheets. Many useful tools are hidden in obscure places compared to their Windows counterparts.
Cloud storage and mobile integration
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iWork is fully integrated with iCloud online storage, allowing you to store and access up to 5GB of files from anywhere across multiple devices for free (never face the stress of losing a file on a corrupt memory stick hours before a deadline again). With MS Office, business users (on a monthly price plan) can also store files online if they have an Office licence assigned and SharePoint online, via OneDrive.
Collaboration and Sharing
Multiple users can collaborate on the same document, spreadsheet or presentation for free using Apple’s real-time collaboration, which works across many devices. MS Office users can collaborate on SharePoint but require a business package for each person they hope to collaborate with.
Individual applications at a glance:
Word v Pages
MS Word and Pages are very similar software packages in terms of the features that they offer. Both cover all of the basic word processing features including text formatting, custom headers, footers, footnotes, bulleted and numbered lists, pictures and images. Pages comes into its own when it comes to document design, particularly for leaflets, flyers and posters, which you can format with ease. It also allows you to add charts to the document – a feature missing from MS Word. Microsoft Word, however, outperforms when it comes to writing tools such as word count and spell checking tools. It also provides a wider variety of formatting options and allows you to add special effects to text like 3D or shadow (not that you necessarily should!) You can also add more special effects to imagery such as drop shadow, reflection and more.
Excel v Numbers
In general, Excel, while not as aesthetically pleasing, is easier to work with, particularly when dealing with large amounts of raw data. While both packages work for everyday budgeting and planning, Excel is more suited to academic or professional use, containing a larger range of functions and offering greater mathematical capabilities than Numbers.
The clean-cut approach when Apple created Numbers means that shortcuts and formulas are not as obvious to find when compared to Excel’s menus and autosum functions. From a learning perspective, there are a greater range of online resources and ‘how to’ tutorials for Excel, compared to Numbers.
PowerPoint v Keynote
Keynote excels when it comes to design. Users with no design background can easily create sleek and stylish presentations, pulling in images, sounds and video media with ease. There is a wide range of in-built theme options and layouts, animations and fonts are easy to change. PowerPoint, while more functional than beautiful is a powerful piece of presentation software. Used to its full potential it can provide a lot of control on design and functionality. However, the complexity of PowerPoint can become a hindrance if users don’t fully know how to use it. It is all too easy to create an ugly presentation with over-the-top transitions if you aren’t careful and many users have found that multimedia issues sometimes occur when a presenting from a device other than the one you built your presentation on.
Other factors to consider:
Pricing – iWork now comes included as standard for free with any modern Apple device. The pricing is therefore definitely an advantage for Mac users. The only additional cost is for greater iCloud storage capacity if you choose to store your files in the cloud but run out of space.
Pre-built templates – iWork includes a wider range of built-in design templates over MS Office, enabling you to achieve a beautiful finished product, faster.
Online support – MS Office has been around for a long time meaning you can Google almost anything about the package and find a tutorial or support for your issue. iWork is less widely used so you may find less available support.
Apple pencil – If you are fully-integrated into the Apple ecosystem, iWork enables you to add illustrations and notations to iWork using Apple Pencil for iPad.
iWork works well in a Mac operating environment, allowing users to fully immerse themselves in the Apple ecosystem without having to pay for additional software. The applications are beautiful and clean to look at, in keeping with Apple’s sleek aesthetic and can fulfil almost all of the requirements of an everyday user.
MS Office, works well in a Windows operating environment, offering familiarity and comfort when transferring files to other Office users without compatibility issues. Overall, the Office software includes more features and a greater level of user control and functionality (often not utilised by an everyday user, but useful to have all the same).
When looking for the perfect office software package for you, do also consider other alternatives, such as the free “LibreOffice” and Google’s online competitor G Suite, encompassing Gmail, Docs, Sheets, Slides and Forms.
Apple Office Package Deals
Applies to:Office for Mac, Office 2019 for Mac
There are two basic ways that you, as an admin, can deploy Office for Mac to users in your organization:
Provide your users with the installer package file, and have them install Office for Mac for themselves
Download the installer package file to your local network, and then use your software distribution tools to deploy Office for Mac to your users
If you have an Office 365 (or Microsoft 365) plan, you can provide your users with instructions on how to download and install Office for Mac for themselves. To install Office for Mac, a user has to be administrator on the Mac or know an administrator account name and password.
But, if you deploy Office for Mac for your users, you have more control over the deployment, including which users get Office for Mac and when. To plan your deployment, review the following information.
Download Office for Mac to your local network
The easiest way to download Office for Mac, and ensure you're always getting the most current version and build, is to download directly from the Office Content Delivery Network (CDN) on the internet. Here are the links to the installer packages for the Office suite, which contains all the applications:
- Office for Mac (for Office 365 or Microsoft 365 plans)
- Office 2019 for Mac (for retail or volume licensed versions)
Apple Package Deals
Support for Office 2016 for Mac ended on October 13, 2020. For more information, see End of support for Office 2016 for Mac.
Here is some additional information about installer packages:
- Installer and update packages for individual applications are also available on the Office CDN. For links to those packages, see Most current packages for Office for Mac.
- The same installer package is used for Office for Mac and Office 2019 for Mac. How you activate the product determines whether you get the features for Office for Mac or the features for Office 2019 for Mac.
- Unlike Office 2016 for Mac, the installer package for Office 2019 for Mac isn't available on the Volume Licensing Service Center (VLSC).
Deploy Office for Mac to users in your organization
Office for Mac uses the Apple Installer technology for installation. That means you can use the software distribution tools that you normally use to deploy software to Mac users. Some of the most common tools are Jamf Pro, Munki, and AutoPkg. You can also use Apple Remote Desktop and AppleScript.
There are changes in Office for Mac to improve security, including implementing Apple app sandboxing guidelines. These changes mean that you can't customize the app bundle before or after you deploy Office. Don't add, change, or remove files in an app bundle. For example, even if you don't need the French language resource files for Excel, don't delete them. This change prevents Excel from starting. Even though you can't customize app bundles, you can configure preferences for each app.
Additional deployment information for Office for Mac
Whichever deployment method you decide to use, the following information can help you plan your Office for Mac deployment.
What's new: Before you deploy, review the information about what's new for admins in Office for Mac. This article includes information about system requirements, language support, and new features.
Side-by-side installation: You can't have Office 2016 for Mac, which is no longer supported, and Office 2019 for Mac installed on the same computer. Also, you can't have Office for Mac (from an Office 365 or Microsoft 365 plan) along with either Office 2016 for Mac or Office 2019 for Mac (both of which are one-time purchase versions) installed on the same computer.
Deploying individual apps: Installer package files for individual applications are available on the Office Content Delivery Network (CDN). For links to those files, see Most current packages for Office for Mac.
Activation: To use Office for Mac, it needs to be activated. Before you deploy, review the information about how activation works in Office for Mac.
Uninstalling: If you need to uninstall Office for Mac, you can follow these steps to completely remove Office for Mac. Unfortunately, there is no program to uninstall Office for Mac automatically.
Version numbers Version numbers of 16.17 or higher for retail or volume licensed installs indicate you have Office 2019 for Mac. Office 2016 for Mac, which is no longer supported, had version numbers of 16.16 or lower. Since the 'major' version (16) hasn't changed between Office 2016 for Mac and Office 2019 for Mac, application settings, including policies, preferences, and preference domains are similar between the two versions. Also, add-ins and other extensibility solutions that were compatible with Office 2016 for Mac will most likely be compatible with Office 2019 for Mac or will require minimal testing.
Upgrade to Office for Mac or to Office 2019 for Mac
Upgrade to Office for Mac (subscription version): If you're a volume licensed customer of Office 2016 for Mac or Office 2019 for Mac, you can upgrade to Office for Mac (available with certain Office 365 or Microsoft 365 plans) without uninstalling your current version. First, download and run the license removal tool. Second, launch Microsoft AutoUpdate (MAU) and install the latest Office updates. Finally, launch any Office app and sign in with your Office 365 or Microsoft 365 account. For a demo of these steps, and an example of how to automate this process with Jamf Pro, watch this video.
Upgrade to Office 2019 for Mac: If you're a volume licensed customer, you can upgrade to Office 2019 for Mac without uninstalling Office 2016 for Mac. First, you need to download the 2019 version of the Volume License (VL) Serializer from the Volume Licensing Service Center (VLSC). Second, download the latest version of Office 2019 for Mac. Then, deploy both the Volume License (VL) Serializer and Office 2019 for Mac to each device running Office 2016 for Mac. There is no need to remove Office 2016 for Mac first.