iWork '08 Out of the Gate

Them there internets are all abuzz about iWork now that it has a spreadsheet. "Now Apple can challenge Microsoft Office!", sez the Apple faithful.

"Not so fast.", sez I. "First off, have you ever tried to do any word processing with Pages? Pages has some neat features, but it's not a competitor with Microsoft Word."

"Ah, but now Pages has a word processor mode!", sez the fanboy, his eyes alight with glee and fanaticism.

Look, I don't think anybody out there hates Office anymore than I do. (Well, OK. Eric S. Raymond and Richard Stallman do. But nobody else!) I've tried to use Pages in the past. And I hated it.

I have this iWork '08 install package sitting here on my desk and I need to print a couple of shipping labels. Let's review how this works in Word. You start up Word, the stupid Project Gallery thing comes up. you click Labels, click Label wizard (the only choice in the category but Microsoft loves the clicks!). You pick out the Avery label number for the type of label you want, decide whether you want a full sheet or just a single label, you paste in the address you want and you hit print. It's great. Again, I love to hate on Word but if you want to print a label it's pretty damn good.

So I fire up Pages '08. No label support. Nothing. Nada. I can print some lovely looking envelopes but I need a label to put on a box, not an envelope. Search the help for labels. Nothing relevant. <sigh> Close down Pages and start Word.

I'm all excited about Numbers (the new spreadsheet) and it looked like Pages did have a bunch more word-processor-y things than Pages '06 did. But I print labels reasonably often and I don't think it's that strange of a task. I realize there's a quagmire of "nobody needs 100% of Word, but everyone needs a different 80%", but I really think labels are probably more common than that. And ironically it's one of the few things Word does where the "wizard" does just what I want and stays out of my way. You could almost believe it was an Apple application, if all you did was print a few labels . . . .

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