Mac Office apps FAQ: I just made the switch from Windows to Mac; what Mac Office software can I use?
One of my family members just wrote and said that despite having a firewall, anti-virus software, and spybot software installed, their Windows computer appears to have been infected for the third time in six months. She asked what they'd be facing if they made the switch to a Mac system, particularly from an "Office" applications standpoint. Here is my reply:
Mac Office software options
On the Mac there are several "Mac Office" options:
iWork If you don't want to do that, Apple has their "iWork" applications that can read and write Windows docs. An app called Pages is the counterpart to Word; Numbers is Excel; and Keynote is PowerPoint. They are different than the MS apps, so there is a little learning curve, and I don't have to do a bunch of things for work, but I generally like them.
Microsoft Office There is also Microsoft Office for Mac, Home and Student Edition, and in the good news department, it's now about $110. (It was much more expensive when I first wrote this article, and I just updated the price in August, 2010.)
OpenOffice Or, there is an application named OpenOffice that does what those do also. It's an open source app that has a lot of power, but it's a little clunky, though the newest version is supposed to be better on a Mac.
Parallels Finally, there is also software that lets you run Windows on a Mac. Basically it opens a Mac window, and then Microsoft Windows runs inside there. If the Windows part gets infected you just delete it and reinstall it, and it won't affect the Mac. (It's called "virtual machine" software, and one product is named Parallels. There's at least one more, but I can't think of the name of it.)
P.S. - There are also cool free Mac apps like GarageBand, iWeb, iMovie, and a DVD player, so you get a nice initial bundle of software when you buy a new Mac.
See if you can get a MacBook Pro (a laptop) as a loaner from work, and see if you like it.