For years, Microsoft Office was the undis­puted champion of Mac software suites. Then came Apple’s iWork. At first it consisted solely of Pages and Keynote – not enough to take on Office head-to-head. But when Apple added Numbers to iWork ’08, the suite became a viable alternative to Microsoft Office.

How viable? That’s what we asked Jeffery Battersby, Rob Griffiths and Franklin N. Tessler – our go-to experts on word processors, spreadsheets and presentation programs, respectively – to find out.

We asked each of them to use Office and iWork to create a project in their respective areas of expertise (Word vs Pages for Battersby, Excel vs Numbers for Griffiths and PowerPoint vs Keynote for Tessler). Each project was to progress from the basics (data entry and formatting) to more-advanced features (adding a data-entry form to a spreadsheet, for example, or advanced animations in a presentation). Is one program better than the other? What are their strengths and weaknesses? Which jobs (and which users) require which tool?

Of course, we knew our test wouldn’t touch on every single feature in every program. But we figured we’d be able to compare the tools that you might typically require in a real-world job. Which suite came out on top in our software bouts?

We start off with Microsoft Word vs. Pages '08

Click here to read our review of Office 2008 for Mac.

Click here to read our review of iWork '08.