The Problem Microsoft Created: Mac Office 2008

msofficemac.pngAbout a year and a half ago, I made the switch to Mac and I have not looked back. To this day, I feel confused when I go into Windows (XP or Vista) even though I used to support XP for Northrop Grumman.

When I made the switch, I was very much used to Office 2003 (I was coming from a Windows world!) so I was pleasantly surprised to find out that Mac Office 2004 was included on my new Macbook Pro. I used the 30 day free trial and then bought a full license. However, I got frustrated after a bit by the sluggishness and the prone nature of Office 2004 to crash.

For those of you following along at home, this was because Office 2004 was never redone for Intel processors (or as we in Intel Mac world like to say, there was no Universal binary). It was built for the old PowerPC architecture and so the underlying code was not optimized for zippier, more threaded architecture. Yes, I know I’m getting geeky here.

So anyway, I went out and bought iWork ’06. I switched to native Apple apps all around. Instead of Entourage (Outlook for you Window users!) for calendaring, contact management and Email – I switched to Mail.app, Address Book, and iCal. Instead of Microsoft Word, I used Pages. Instead of Powerpoint, I used KEynote. The only thing I was missing was an Excel replacement – so I kept Office Mac 2004 around. In fact, at that point, I would have still bought Microsoft Office simply because I needed Excel.

That all changed in iWork ’08. Numbers was added giving me a full featured spreadsheet. Keynote got better. Pages rocked. There was no reason to use Microsoft Office anymore. So I didn’t. I uninstalled (Read: I just dragged it to the trash can. Forget about the Add/Remove programs nonsense).

Now the difference between iWork and MS Office is minimal for most users. It’s not a lightweight poser. The apps are full featured and is compatible with MS Office. Office probably still offers additional perks that iWork doesn’t have. It’s always had way more features than anybody else.

Now, Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac is out and it really does look good. The problem is there is no free demo. Since I bought Office 2004, I am eligible for the upgrade price of $239.95.

Here’s the problem. iWork ’08 costs $79. I own iWork ’08. For me, buying it was a no-brainer. But assume for a moment that I did not own it. I could try it out. Apple offers a 30 day free trial of iWork ’08. Microsoft trial of Microsoft Office 2008. Nah, sucka!

Which is odd.

Because Microsoft still offers a free trial of Office 2007 for Windows, it does not seem to be decision of corporate intent. It just seems that the Mactopia people are tone deaf.

If the MBU people at Microsoft were smart, they would recognize that NOT offering a 30-60 day trial of their product is tantamount to Product suicide. Hey, your main competitor is giving their product away for 30 days and the total cost of ownership is $79. Microsoft Office is way more expensive and, let’s face it, more Mac users are inclined to use Apple products than Microsoft so they should be doing whatever they can to get crossover customers.

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