Apple Beats Microsoft at its Own Open XML Game

Posted:
in Mac Software edited January 2014
http://www.pcworld.com/article/vote/...49/thanks.html



Apple Inc.'s release of iWork '08 this week is "embarrassing," an analyst said Friday, not for its maker, but for Apple's rival, Microsoft Corp.



Tuesday, Apple rolled out a refreshed iWork that added a spreadsheet, dubbed Numbers, to the earlier mix of a word processor/page layout Pages and presentation maker Keynote. But it was iWork's ability to handle the Open XML file format -- the new native format for Microsoft's own Office 2007 application suite -- that Michael Gartenberg of JupiterResearch talked about.



"This was the ultimate insult to injury," Gartenberg said. "Not only has Microsoft not delivered the ability to read and write Open XML in its Mac Office, but at the end of the day, Apple was the one who delivered."



Gartenberg referred to Microsoft's problems developing Office 2008 for Mac, which the company announced last week would be delayed until mid-January. Among the roadblocks, said Microsoft's Macintosh Business Unit (MBU), is the shift to Open XML as Office 2008's native file format. The company has also been slow in releasing conversion tools that let earlier editions of its Mac suite work with Office 2007's Open XML documents.



"This is embarrassing for MBU," Gartenberg said. "It has said that the shift to Intel has caused [its] problems, and changes in development tools, and the file format, too. But every other major vendor has pretty much managed to get their apps over to Intel [on the Mac]. Microsoft is one of the oldest Mac developers out there, so it's not like it doesn't have experience [on the platform]."



IWork '08 applications can open the OpenXML formats churned out by their Office 2007 counterparts -- Pages with Word, Numbers with Excel, Keynote with PowerPoint -- but cannot save in those formats. Currently, Office 2004 and Office v. X users can both open Word and PowerPoint Open XML files and save in those formats using beta converters MBU has issued. No such converter has been released that handles Excel 2007's Open XML files, however.



Ironically, one of those who praised iWork's handling of the Microsoft file format was a program manager for Office 2007. "[iWork '08] reads the Office Open XML files with very high fidelity," said Brian Jones on his company blog.



At the same time, Jones defended his fellow developers at Microsoft in MBU. "The Mac Office folks have a ton of stuff they are working on for the next version, so it's not surprising that you aren't seeing full Open XML support until they reach that point," Jones said in response to a question asking how Microsoft lost the race to Apple's iWork.



"Office for the Mac is just not a real priority for Microsoft," said Gartenberg as he spelled out his take for Microsoft's tardiness creating software on the Mac that can handle what are, after all, its own file formats. "And that's not likely to change anytime soon."



Asked to explain why Microsoft hasn't been able to match Apple, MBU's marketing manager, Amanda Lefebvre, ticked off the development issues that have delayed Office 2008.



"The transition to the new file format is one of several reasons the development cycle is longer with Office 2008," she said. "Office 2008 [for Mac] will run natively on Intel- and PowerPC-based Macs with a Universal Binary [and] this transition necessitated a switch to a new set of development tools as well. The combination of these two technology shifts definitely impacted our schedule."



Not quite, Gartenberg said. "What this really shows is Microsoft's inability to ship software on time these days," he said.



Apple, meanwhile, is doing the smart thing. "They're making sure that they're not dependent on Microsoft for any of the important software [for the Mac]," said Gartenberg.



That strategy, along with the US$79 price of iWork and the window of opportunity because of Office 2008's delay, puts Cupertino in the cat bird seat. "It's going to be hard for Microsoft to get those people who try and buy iWork back," he said. "Microsoft's let down its Mac customers."



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Quote:

"Office for the Mac is just not a real priority for Microsoft," said Gartenberg as he spelled out his take for Microsoft's tardiness creating software on the Mac that can handle what are, after all, its own file formats. "And that's not likely to change anytime soon."



Tell me then, Vista, delayed 4 years, and Microsoft Office 2007, also delayed, where those priorities to Microsoft? I think it's impossible now for Microsoft to use "priority" as an excuse for why something is not getting done.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 14
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,195moderator
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by icfireball View Post


    IWork '08 applications can open the OpenXML formats churned out by their Office 2007 counterparts -- Pages with Word, Numbers with Excel, Keynote with PowerPoint -- but cannot save in those formats.



    Wait, it can't save to that format? How do you transfer stuff to PC users who need to open the documents then?



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by icfireball View Post


    Asked to explain why Microsoft hasn't been able to match Apple, MBU's marketing manager, Amanda Lefebvre, ticked off the development issues that have delayed Office 2008.



    "The transition to the new file format is one of several reasons the development cycle is longer with Office 2008," she said. "Office 2008 [for Mac] will run natively on Intel- and PowerPC-based Macs with a Universal Binary [and] this transition necessitated a switch to a new set of development tools as well. The combination of these two technology shifts definitely impacted our schedule."



    Not quite, Gartenberg said. "What this really shows is Microsoft's inability to ship software on time these days," he said.



    What a crappy load of excuses. Adobe had the same issues and they dealt with way more code. Office consists of Word, Entourage, Excel, Powerpoint. Adobe CS has Flash, Photoshop, Dreamweaver, Illustrator, Indesign, Fireworks, Premiere and After Effects and they managed to get all this Intel native months ago.



    A new file format is no excuse if Apple managed to support it already.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by icfireball View Post


    Apple, meanwhile, is doing the smart thing. "They're making sure that they're not dependent on Microsoft for any of the important software [for the Mac]," said Gartenberg.



    About time I say. They will still have the dependence on Adobe of course but Microsoft is a dependency they could do without.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by icfireball View Post


    Tell me then, Vista, delayed 4 years, and Microsoft Office 2007, also delayed, where those priorities to Microsoft? I think it's impossible now for Microsoft to use "priority" as an excuse for why something is not getting done.



    I think Vista was a priority but they found the task difficult. Office for Mac is nowhere near the same complexity and to me it just shows a lack of interest, which is what you'd expect from them.
  • Reply 2 of 14
    Quote:

    "Office for the Mac is just not a real priority for Microsoft," said Gartenberg as he spelled out his take for Microsoft's tardiness creating software on the Mac that can handle what are, after all, its own file formats. "And that's not likely to change anytime soon."



    I don't understand how he can say this when Macs are selling so well. Besides, isn't the Mac BU, logically speaking, a separate "company" which shouldn't have to worry about Microsoft's priorities?
  • Reply 3 of 14
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Marvin View Post


    Wait, it can't save to that format? How do you transfer stuff to PC users who need to open the documents then?



    My interpretation of that is the program technically can't save in those formats because it doesn't create them. It can export them though and that's essentially saving. I could be wrong but I'm pretty sure that's how it works. Apple wouldn't make it harder to work between PCs and Macs. They are all about making it easier.
  • Reply 4 of 14
    icfireballicfireball Posts: 2,594member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by maimezvous View Post


    My interpretation of that is the program technically can't save in those formats because it doesn't create them. It can export them though and that's essentially saving. I could be wrong but I'm pretty sure that's how it works. Apple wouldn't make it harder to work between PCs and Macs. They are all about making it easier.



    Correct. Keynote, Pages, and Numbers save in their own formats for maximum compatibility - so when I do something in pages, it says exactly how I want pages to display it. When I export, it might look slightly different (although supposedly iWork '08 is very good about continuity between formats) and the exported format is no longer native to Pages.



    It's like this: I got to Germany and I want to spend my money. US Dollars don't work in Germany, but I can convert my US Dollars to Euros. Same concept.
  • Reply 5 of 14
    icfireballicfireball Posts: 2,594member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Marvin View Post


    About time I say. They will still have the dependence on Adobe of course but Microsoft is a dependency they could do without.



    The point was that Microsoft and Apple are direct competitors, and in most ways, Adobe and Apple are not. You never want to be dependent upon your competitor. Not good for business.

    When someone buys a Mac, Microsoft looses, when someone buys a PC, Apple looses. Except if one develops software for the other. Which is what Microsoft is doing. Except they are not doing it very well.



    But 90% of Adobe's products don't compete with Apple. Here are the few that do:

    Aperture vs. Lightroom

    Final Cut vs. Premier

    And some might argue QuickTime vs. Flash, except that since they are free, and have different uses, peacefully coexist.
  • Reply 6 of 14
    Hark! is that the sound of feet draging?
  • Reply 7 of 14
    chuckerchucker Posts: 5,089member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by icfireball View Post


    But 90% of Adobe's products don't compete with Apple. Here are the few that do:

    Aperture vs. Lightroom

    Final Cut vs. Premier



    DVD Studio Pro vs. Encore DVD

    Motion and Shake vs. After Effects

    Logic vs. Audition.



    More than a few.
  • Reply 8 of 14
    backtomacbacktomac Posts: 4,579member
    I'd say that little shotgun marriage between Apple and MS, (you now when Gates got on stage with SJ), well it's OVER.
  • Reply 9 of 14
    amoryaamorya Posts: 1,103member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by maimezvous View Post


    My interpretation of that is the program technically can't save in those formats because it doesn't create them. It can export them though and that's essentially saving.



    That's not what it means.



    iWork can only save in the older Office formats, not the new XML based ones. The older formats can still be read by the new versions of Office, though, so you actually have fewer compatibility issues by saving in the older ones.
  • Reply 10 of 14
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Amorya View Post


    That's not what it means.



    iWork can only save in the older Office formats, not the new XML based ones. The older formats can still be read by the new versions of Office, though, so you actually have fewer compatibility issues by saving in the older ones.



    Thank you for the clarification. Does this mean that it can't export to XML at all?
  • Reply 11 of 14
    That is correct. Hopefully they'll add that feature in the future though. The old formats have such large filesizes compared to XML-based formats. Although, I did notice that opening a Word document in Pages and exporting it back to .doc format yielded a smaller file (32kb vs. 20kb). Hmm...
  • Reply 12 of 14
    All I care about is getting the MBU to quit working on Office...just like they quit working on everything else.



    Goodbye MBU, you won't be missed. Neither you nor your parent company.



    I'll gladly trade a few compatibility issues and some missing features in iWork to see the MBU disappear off the face of the Earth.
  • Reply 13 of 14
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,195moderator
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by teedoff087 View Post


    That is correct. Hopefully they'll add that feature in the future though. The old formats have such large filesizes compared to XML-based formats. Although, I did notice that opening a Word document in Pages and exporting it back to .doc format yielded a smaller file (32kb vs. 20kb). Hmm...



    I didn't think the guy would say it couldn't save to XML if it actually could. I don't like this because it means that people will be keeping the older format alive for way longer. Surely if the format is open, it would be easier to implement a save feature.



    I'm not suggesting they should get rid of the older format because obviously not all PC users will have the newer version of Office but not supporting the newest format for saving kinda sucks IMO. I'm sure NeoOffice supports saving in this format.
  • Reply 14 of 14
    aegisdesignaegisdesign Posts: 2,914member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by maimezvous View Post


    Thank you for the clarification. Does this mean that it can't export to XML at all?



    Not Microsoft's Office Open XML format, no, but the native format for iWork is XML based.



    Documentation for the previous version of Keynote and Pages are at http://developer.apple.com/documenta...nkElementID_79





    Why we need yet another XML based document format is beyond me but I presume Apple have their reasons.
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