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Prelude

 

Last time out I looked at corporate email from the Mac, and was promptly taught by pseagers a very cool thing I did not know: That being there was actually a way to collect all the unread emails in mail.app in one place: Smart Folders. I have been using that ever since the comment was posted, and now Outlook 2011 is rarely brought up. The mail.app adaptive junk email filters add another very nice layer of protection beyond Outlook 2011's. Enough that mail.app is now my Mac email client of choice, the way Evolution is for me on Linux (posts too numerous to link).

 

The Big Three

 

Once past email, the problem becomes the so-called "productivity software". Word Processor. Spreadsheet. Presentation package.

 

There are numerous ways to go with this. The Mac does not want for solutions here. The gating factor here is interoperability with MS Office. All over the place there are still people using MS Windows, and still using MS Office. They didn't go to the cloud yet (Google Docs, Zoho, ThinkFree, et al). No: They are using locally installed software, and they are emailing .doc, .docx, .xls, and so forth out to those that they love and worth with. They expect me to be able to read it because they are pretty sure I am just like them, and use the same software they do.

 

As a Linux desktop user for years, I am used to this. Linux adapted to this years ago, and Mac's are able to do the same kinds of adapting, in some cases using Mac versions of the same software.

 

LibreOffice

 

There used to OpenOffice, and there still is, but due to a nasty breakup, LibreOffice came into existence as its more-or-less successor. Except OpenOffice is now part of Apache. Complicated. For the purposes of this, I'll talk about LibreOffice, but most of it applies to OpenOffice too. I use LibreOffice everywhere, just like I used to use OpenOffice. When I go to Fedora now, LibreOffice is what 'yum' installs and updates, so when I looked at what to put on the Mac, it was an easy choice.

 

My favorite word processor, bar none, is still Word Perfect. But it runs on an OS I do not even personally have, and I am not putting my personal copy on my corporate machine, so it sits sad and alone on its install disk, waiting for the day that there is a Mac or Linux version again.

 

In the meantime, I like LibreOffice. I use it for all my reports, especially the ones that have a lot of imbedded pictures in them. It is not page layout software, but it has enough of the layout page controls that I can build fairly nice looking reports fairly quickly. I save everything in .ODF format, and only when I need to send it to a another do I spin off a different format version. Usually PDF, unless they will need to edit it, in which case one of the MS formats like .doc.

 

The issues of old, like pages laying out oddly when viewed from another package are largely gone. Sometimes the pictures and captions act odd, but by and large there are no serious issues. My spread sheet work is all fairly simple. Not much in the ways of macros or RDB imbedded data searches. Nothing I do around power planning for data centers spreadsheet math-wise, for example, causes issue. It just works. Same as it always does on Linux.

 

Presentations used to have problems with fonts and page sizes, and it still happens from time to time on really cmplex templates, but nothing I can't live with.

 

Most of the time, people do not know I created it on the Mac any more than they did when I created it on Linux. Document. Spreadsheet, or Presentation.

 

Apple's iWork Suite

 

I have talked to many people here that wish they could just switch over to using Apples premiere office software, namely Pages, Numbers, and Keynote. That the software is beautiful is clear. Easy to use.

 

Where I have had problems in the past interoperability. I create something in Pages, save it as .doc, and it just does not import quite right. Same thing for Keynote. I have never had that issue with Numbers, but again, my spreadsheets are very simple.

 

The iWork suite is not updated very often. The current version is iWork '09. it was last updated in July of last year, and that appeared to mostly add OS.X Lion support. not new features or increased compatibility.

 

Another thing that works against the suite in the corporate world is that it is available, as near as I can see, only in the App store now. No bulk buys.

 

Pages used to be very page layout oriented, but the last version introduced the ability to run in a word processing or a page layout mode. Kind of an interesting way to think about document creation

 

Still, for compatibility reasons, I tend to work in LibreOffice.

 

Office 2011

 

This one is pretty obvious. Here are Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, plus the previous posted about Outlook. What is not here is Project or Visio. The two I really need. Nor is InfoPath, the XML formatter that some, especially Sharepoint users, seem so fond of.

 

Internet Explorer is also no longer built for Macs. No loss: the Mac version was not the same code base, and web sites that are stupid enough to require IE usually did not work with the Mac version of IE.

 

The apps that are here are hybrid Mac / Ribbon look and feel. Not bad. Very usable. Very compatible.

 

Communicator is also available.  I have 13.1.3 at this writing. It allows me to share desktops with MS Windows users, which is nice.

 

SO....

 

In summary, I can maintain nearly 100% interoperability with the MS Office users of the world. I had this on Linux before now, and oddly it took a while for the Mac to catch up with Linux here. OpenOffice (pre LibreOffice) took a very long time to go abut creating a port of their software ot the Mac. So long in fact that back in the early days of using a Mac at home, I used another project, called NeoOffice. NeoOffice uses the OpenOffice code base, but the authors were far faster than OpenOffice at porting it. For years it was the only good office suite available on the Mac. It predated iWork, and the Apple sourced office suite on the Mac before iWork, AppleWorks, was ... suboptimal.

 

NeoOffice looks more like a Mac app than, say, OpenOffice. Its fast, and it is updated quite frequently to stay current.

 

So, there are at least five valid office suites for the Mac now. All of them work, most are very compatible, and if you are coming over from either Linux or MS Windows, there is something that you will find that makes you comfortable working on the Mac at the office.