I have not always been kind to Microsoft Word on the Mac. Put simply, Office 2004, was a slug on intel Macs. It was slow to load, slow to type, and clunky. It was also a resource hog since its not inconsiderable code had to be ground through Rosetta. I simply found it easier to use other applications.
It has occurred to me recently that this has changed. I've been using Office 2008 for a few months and have found it serves an important role in my day job once again. A lot of the work I do is collaborative. I write agreements and contracts all the time and, sadly, I can count the number of Macs on the other end of that process on one hand. So it is a given that I'm dealing with Microsoft Word on the other side of the table just about every time.
Word 2008 cures a lot of its predecessor's sins. It loads pretty snappy and doesn't get in your way when typing. I think the Microsoft Mac:BU has also made some significant strides in making it feel . . . well . . . more Mac-like. I met several of the Office developers at Macworld and a lot of those guys really "get it" with the Mac experience. For me, it was real eye opening. Microsoft Word is legendary for having every imaginable feature. The Microsoft Mac engineers had to retain all of that stuff and still make a pleasant to use Mac application. That is not exactly easy. Nevertheless, they did a good job of containing it all.
Most importantly for me however is compatibility. Microsoft Word on the Mac is rock-solid compatible with that "other operating system." I can send complicated pleadings and forms and nobody ever knows they were made on my Mac. While Pages can do the same for simple documents, on more complex documents, things break down.*
Another thing I like about Word is the way it has embraced automation. Built in automator scripts and plenty of Applescript support make Word an attractive option for me on a lot of my transactional forms. I already blogged this once but plan on following up on this in the future.
So without really thinking about it, I've found myself going directly to Microsoft Word increasingly often. Put simply, Word is back on the team.
* This doesn't mean Pages is out of the rotation. It also certainly doesn't mean that I've stopped using my "precious" Scrivener. When it comes to detailed research or long documents, you'd have to pry Scrivener off my my cold, dead hard drive.