New word processing programme
July 21, 2011 8:41 AM   Subscribe

Is it worth it to buy Microsoft Office 2011 to run on my OS X Lion Macbook?

I just upgraded my Macbook Pro to Lion, and now Microsoft Word (2004, I believe) does not work. Should I bother to buy the 2011 Office for Mac or should I download something like OpenOffice (or any other suggestion)? If I do switch to another programme, will I be able to open old documents? Further info: I'm moving to the UK in about a month for school - in case that affects my options.
posted by Partario to Computers & Internet (21 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I have a copy of 2011 that I got because I have an MS Technet subscription. It's slick, but for my home use I really don't need the feature bloat that it has over Open Office and find myself using the latter. If you're a student, you could qualify for pretty steep discounts on Office 2011, though. I wouldn't recommend anyone pay full price for it out of their own pocket.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 8:49 AM on July 21, 2011

It seems like there are some interesting features of Lion (like the "Time Machine" for documents, and being able to quit without having to save open documents) that applications have to be made to take advantage of. AFAIK Office 2011 isn't, so if I were in your position I wouldn't shell out for any major software until Lion-optimized versions are released, if I can possibly help it.
posted by Pants McCracky at 8:49 AM on July 21, 2011

Also, Open Office doesn't have trouble with all kinds of older file formats.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 8:50 AM on July 21, 2011

I've been using openoffice for years instead of paying for MS Office. I'd be at a loss to tell you what I've given up by not paying for MS Office.
posted by deadweightloss at 9:02 AM on July 21, 2011

You should not bother to buy the new office because you obviously don't have a reason to switch. The only compelling reason would be if you are aware of a new feature or workflow and you would like to use it, or if your org uses the new files extensively and you're causing people problems by having to save files in the old format. If you switch, you will be able to open the old formats. As far as I know, MS Office behaves similarly in the UK and in the USA and attitudes about it are also similar.
posted by michaelh at 9:06 AM on July 21, 2011

It pains me to say it, but OpenOffice is not a good replacement for Microsoft Office, if you need to open up and modify MS Office docs.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:24 AM on July 21, 2011

Now that I think of it, I don't NEED any of the old documents - at least, not to modify. I just need something with which I will be able to write reports and my master's thesis.
posted by Partario at 9:31 AM on July 21, 2011

Another option is Pages, Apple's own word processor.

It's very attractive and much less bloated than Word. It opens .doc and .docx files and can export to them also, though I've found, exchanging documents with a friend who uses Word for PC, that there can be some quirks. (Comments work, for example, but the name/timestamp may be dropped.)

I wouldn't necessarily recommend it for an office environment, but if you're looking for a word processor for university, it could be a good contender. It's also cheap -- I bought it from the Mac App Store for about $21 Australian.
posted by Georgina at 9:33 AM on July 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

Seconding Pages. US$20 in the App Store. The stuff Georgina mentions probably won't be super important if you're not doing heavy-duty document sharing; assuming your old stuff is mostly your basic school paper fare, I bet Pages would open them no problem as well.
posted by substars at 9:44 AM on July 21, 2011

If you need the actual Office apps, you could try to find an old, discounted copy of Office 2008. It's a Universal suite, so all the apps will work in Lion.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:49 AM on July 21, 2011

Pages is fantastic, and I've actually started preferring using it to Word. I'd wait on Office until you get to school and a. see if you really need it, b. probably get a steep discount for being a student.
posted by General Malaise at 9:51 AM on July 21, 2011

Oh, you're writing a thesis? You might also like to look at Scrivener.

It won't open Word files, which is why didn't mention it originally, but it's an incredible programme for putting together large, multi-chapter documents. It also lets you keep all your research, notes, etc in one place for easy referral.

Personally, I use both Scrivener and Pages. They're different tools for different tasks.
posted by Georgina at 9:57 AM on July 21, 2011

I have a prof that does maybe 60-70% of her academic work in TextEdit (really!) and Google Docs. For a thesis, in which formatting and styles are so important, Pages would be much better. Office 2011 is nice (for me it runs better than 2008) but I'd wait for a version that really integrates with Lion.
posted by ddaavviidd at 9:58 AM on July 21, 2011

Be careful about a new install of Office 2008. I've been reading that the installer uses PPC code, even though the actual applications don't, so you will only be able to use it if you have it installed before upgrading to Lion.
posted by mariokrat at 10:00 AM on July 21, 2011

you can download OpenOffice for free and see if you like it. if you don't, then you're not out anything but a bit of your time.

Pages has already been optimized for Lion and will definitely open old Word documents, and does a pretty good job of it. Office 2011 is actually pretty good now, too. I wouldn't hold off waiting for the next version for Lion features on Office, to be honest. 2011 just came out and Microsoft seems to be on about a 4-year release schedule for Mac Office (the last version came out in 2008), so you could be in for quite a wait. and, you ought to get a decent discount through your school on it too.
posted by mrg at 10:07 AM on July 21, 2011

I would also recommend trying Pages. It's excellent, and a lot faster (for me) than Word. It's also much, much cheaper. Handily, you can save as a .doc, so you can pass your documents to people who don't have Pages or a Mac.

There's a demo of the iWork suite here:

I've also heard great things about Scrivener, but note that it might be overkill.
posted by Magnakai at 10:28 AM on July 21, 2011

I used Pages for a while when faced with this same decision. I like it a lot except I couldn't count on it perfectly preserving the formatting when I was sharing .doc files. This turned out to be a big problem for me due to the kind of documents I was working on (legal documents where things had to line up correctly, resumes, etc.) and I eventually took the plunge and bought Word.

I think it's worth it if, and only if, you need to ensure that your formatting translates precisely.
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 10:54 AM on July 21, 2011

Thank you so much everyone. I'm gonna download OpenOffice for now, although I'm considering buying Pages through the app store. I wasn't particularly fond of Word so if I can avoid using it, I will. Also, Scrivener looks awesome.
posted by Partario at 11:22 AM on July 21, 2011

FYI LibreOffice is basically the more current version of OpenOffice.

That's not exactly the most precise description of it, but for your purposes you want LibreOffice, not OpenOffice.
posted by webhund at 11:55 AM on July 21, 2011

I've got MS Office '08. Almost all the work I receive comes in and is expected to go out as a Word file. In spite of that, I do almost all my work in Pages. There are a few minor features from Word that I miss in Pages (and vice-versa), but overall it's a more pleasant writing experience.
posted by adamrice at 12:19 PM on July 21, 2011

I have owned Office 2004, 2008, and 2011 for the Mac. The reason that Office 2004 stopped working is that it is a PowerPC application, and Lion has dropped all support for running PowerPC applications on Intel CPUs. It's a shame, but that's the way it is.

As for Office 2011, it's quite good. It's a dramatic improvement over Office 2008 (which may have been the single worst Microsoft product ever, and I'm including Windows ME in that comparison). Microsoft restructured the entire user interface for Office 2011 to more closely match the ribbon interface that has been available on PCs since Office 2007. Personally, I love the ribbon, but it does take some getting used to.

I probably used Word, Excel, and Powerpoint on a Mac daily. I have no problems with any of them, and I would not consider switching back to Office 2004. (And Office 2004 was a decent product.)

I have also used Pages, and it's different from Word. Not better, not worse, just different. If you're used to using Word, or if you work with people who share files in Word format, then stick with Word. If you're writing documents you'll never share with anyone else, then give Pages a shot.
posted by fremen at 7:20 PM on July 21, 2011

« Older I want to ride my bicycle, I want to ride my bike.   |   Your search for "tiny little corks" returned no... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.