Time to turn iWork apps into a true Office competitor
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Time to turn iWork apps into a true Office competitor

Apple and VMWare (www.vmware.com) -- which specializes in virtualization and cloud infrastructure -- are teaming to build a cloud-hosted office suite for the iPad "that will let organizations ditch Office entirely," according to "CRN" (http://macte.ch/2sasV), quoting unnamed sources "with knowledge of the project." It's about time that Apple revved its iWork apps into a true competitor for Microsoft's offerings.

I love Apple's iWork apps: Pages, Numbers and Keynote. I use them whenever possible instead of Microsoft Office, and I know of several other folks who prefer Apple's own software titles.

Naturally, Pages, Numbers and Keynote aren't going to "kill" Word, Excel and PowerPoint. However, they could offer more serious competition. The last update to the iWork apps came in 2009, so it's time for some revamping. For one thing, the apps -- especially Pages -- could load faster. In addition, an even better ability to import/export Office docs would certainly make the iWork software titles even more successful.

Of course, if Apple really wants to make its iWork apps Office competitive, it will have to port them to Windows. Whether Apple wants to invest the time and money in this is questionable (after all, the iLife apps do just fine, thank you, with no Windows versions). Still, making Windows versions of Pages, Keynote and Numbers makes sense for a variety of reasons.

The main one is that a Windows version of iWorks would mean more sales of the software. More sales would equal more money to invest in further development of iWork. Apple could then truly turn iWork into a serious Office competitor for those folks who don't need all the bells and whistles of the Microsoft software -- and most folks don't.

Apple could still make the Mac version of iWork "special" by hooking into Mac OS X and iOS features. The company has (sorta) done this already with Safari and iTunes. Perhaps this is a trend that will continue.

-- Dennis Sellers

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