[This post originally appeared on Medium.]
○ Word is expensive, Pages is free.
○ Pages used to be bad at footnotes (while Word was always superb). Now it’s fine.
○ Word used to have a brilliant “selection” feature for sentences (Command + Click) that many writers found indispensable. Microsoft eliminated it. Then they put it back. (But by that time I was gone. Please, Apple programmers, could we have one of these for Pages.)
○ Pages is better than Word at producing well behaved PDFs. Images in the PDF are more stationary. The PDFs produced by Pages are higher resolution than those produced by Word.
○ Pages is not quite as good as Word at giving us a “map” of chapter headings. But its “bookmarks” feature is catching up. (Apple only need to look at “sidebar” then “navigation” to see why the Word version is stronger. It’s more compact and it distinguishes between chapters and subchapters.)
○ Pages handles Tables of Content more elegantly (and more automatically). Word TOC needed to be refreshed with each change to headings in the manuscript. This was a pain.
○ Pages handles the “find” function more efficiently.
○ Pages converts Word documents faultlessly, as nearly as I can tell.
○ Pages feels simpler and smarter. Less feature bloat. More “all but only” the features we need. By this time, Word is a bit of a Frankenstein. Microsoft has been “adding to” instead of “starting again” for years now.
Some big changes start small. I have written over a million words with Word. This made me what you might call a loyal user, or at least a habitual one. Then Word withdrew that “sentence selection” feature. Clearly it was an oversight because eventually they put it back.
But this sudden, apparently thoughtless, change started a cascade.
I began searching for another word processor and I auditioned several, including Mellel, Byword, Scrivener, Pages, iA Writer Pro and Ulysses. (I love Scrivener, but the lack of WYSIWYG, and the need to fiddle with output, drives me crazy.)
Once Pages demonstrated new skill with footnotes and PDFs, I signed on.
And now that I was done with Word, I began to think about leaving Powerpoint. I was already using Keynote some of the time.
And now that I was out of Word and Powerpoint, I could consider dumping Excel.
All of a sudden, I was post-Microsoft.
Microsoft has never made the best software. It has relied on an installed base, and the lethargy of people like me. But eventually, at least for me, their cynicism and/or indifference caught up with them.
And things slid away. No black swan. No radical disruption. No act of competitor innovation.
Just a self inflicted wound.
And one user escapes his Office captivity. How about you?