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MacBook for an Economics student [qst: Office for mac]


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NcR

 
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Dear MacForums community

I'm looking forward to studying Economics and Management sciences next year at Uni. Before then, I intend to sell my current Desktop PC to swich for a Laptop. As I was looking around what were the different offers about Laptops on the web, I just saw somewhere an ad for Apple. I then started to investigate Apple's offers and tried to get an idea of what Mac clearly was.

I've been using PCs for now at least 7 years and I know them as Windows by heart. I build my own PCs and never got any virus or really bad crashing issues from Windows thanks to my careful using and maintenance. I precise this since many "swichers" get on Mac mainly because they couldn't run Windows properly. Well that's not my case :p.

I indeed would be very much interested in switching to a Mac, mainly because of curiosity. I've heard and read so much things about them that I have to try and not only rely upon external testimonies. Now here is my question (after this looong intro :p, which helps you being aware of the situation ).

As my incoming studies will be Economics, Finance and Accounting oriented, I need to get a really good and full productivity application suite. Since I've been used to work on Microsoft Office, and because this is the most common and used suite of applications throughout the world, I clearly want to use it on my possible mac.
I've seen Microsoft has released an Mac version of Office 2008 however feedbacks about it are controversial. (I'm mainly focused on excel.) To some users, Office08 for Mac is the true copy of Office for PC, with some layout and functionning changes. That means that the content and depth are the same. To some others however, Office08 for Mac is bugged and excell does not have as many possibilities as the one for windows.

So my questions are:
  • Have you experienced Office 2008 for Mac along with Office 2007 for PC ? If Yes, how was the difference ? Is Excell as fully developped on Macs as on Windows ?
  • Will I lose possibilities (except my hardcore gamer career ) by using a Mac instead of a PC as a student in economics ?


Thank you for your answers and consideration .
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KamileonX

 
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As much as I would encourage ANYONE to switch to Mac...

As an accounting or economics student, it may not be the best thing for you. 90% of all accounting software is written for Windows exclusively. But even if you could find equivalent software for Mac, things wouldn't be the same.

Let me explain. It is safe to assume that the majority of your classes, if not all are in a Windows environment. The prof will be teaching in windows, any hands on labs you have will also be in Windows. Not having (or being able to run) the EXACT same software as the course dictates may be a disadvantage to you. More than likely, any (specialty) accounting software you use will be written for Windows, and Windows alone.

Of course, there are alternative solutions. You could run Windows on your Mac through either Boot Camp or virtualization software such as Parallels or VMware Fusion. That will allow you to run your specialized software on your Mac, should you choose to buy one.

Essentially, what I'm telling you is that in the world of number crunching, economics and accounting, Windows is still king. If you are considering a Mac, you MUST factor in the additional cost of getting what you need to run Windows on your Mac (Cost of Windows, virtualization software etc), because you will need it. Unfortunately that is the way the world of numbers work.

Speaking of Numbers... should you need spreadsheet software, iWork (which includes Numbers spreadsheet software) is quite comparible to Excel. To answer the second part of your question, Office 2008 is (in my opinion) improved from 2004. However, I don't feel you can really compare it to office 2007 because it's... well... different. Not functionality wise, but the whole feel of the software. I highly recommend you go to your neighborhood Apple Store and check out both iWork and Office 2008 for yourself. It's totally personal preference which you like better. One big advantage of iWork over Office 2008 is cost. iWork is usually is cheaper by 50% or more compared to Office Home & Student edition. iWork does have the ability to export to Excel should you need to share files with other (Windows or Mac) Excel users.

So, in Summary:
- In your upcoming academic major, you WILL have to use Windows.
- Should you choose to buy a Mac, be sure to factor in cost of additional software into your budget. Remember, Boot Camp and virtualization software do not come with a copy of Windows, you must provide it.
- Should you choose to buy a Mac, evaluate for yourself which you like better, Office 2008 or iWork. Once you buy your Mac, time-limited trials of both software titles are available for free from their respective websites; or check with the Apple Store, they have both on demo.

I hope this information helps. Best of luck to you!

P.S.... if you are a Gamer, you MUST buy a Mac with dedicated graphics (i.e. MacBook pro, Mac Pro or iMac...) Mini's and MacBooks do not have the graphics power to run most games. As with any Intel based Mac, the best gaming solution is to a) Buy the Mac version of the game or b) run the game in a Windows partition on Boot Camp. Majority of games will not work in a virtual environment.

KamileonX (Lawrence)
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The Vindicat3d

 
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My suggestion is if you like Macs and the Mac Operating System than get one for your personal life and use bootcamp/VMwarefusion to do any windows stuff.
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NcR

 
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TO The_Vindicat3d: As I've never used a Mac before, I can't know yet if I like it :p.

TO KamileonX: That's a quick, precise, and complete answer! Infinite thanks!
Having been worrying only a little bit about compatibilities between applications and Mac OS, I didn't actually think of those possible "other applications" apart from Microsoft Excel. And if you tell me furthermore that Microsoft Excel for Mac has significantly less depth than its "father" and works rather differently, well that's gonna be a problem. And you're right on the point that I can't allow myself to be a "Mac Outsider" in a land where Windows rules.
I'm gonna consider Windows operating laptops.
Thank yo very much for your vision, I actually omited some points .

Besides this, you seem to encourage people to buy Macs if they are dedicated gamers. I've also heard this theory according to which Mac operating computers are far better for gaming but ... nobody never told me exactly why on a technical level -and I've also never looked for it actually ^^-. Do you have any explanation to this ?
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technologist

 
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Quote:
And if you tell me furthermore that Microsoft Excel for Mac has significantly less depth than its "father" and works rather differently, well that's gonna be a problem.
There is only one major difference between Excel on the two platforms: Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) scripting. Excel 2008 on the Mac does not have VBA. Excel 2007 and Excel 2003 for Windows, and Excel 2004, do have VBA. Excel 2004 is essentially identical to Excel 2003; however, there is no equivalent to Excel 2007 on the Mac, and Excel 2008 is actually a step backwards.
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CUZ28

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by technologist View Post
There is only one major difference between Excel on the two platforms: Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) scripting. Excel 2008 on the Mac does not have VBA. Excel 2007 and Excel 2003 for Windows, and Excel 2004, do have VBA. Excel 2004 is essentially identical to Excel 2003; however, there is no equivalent to Excel 2007 on the Mac, and Excel 2008 is actually a step backwards.
You are correct that Excel 2008 is a step backwards; however, the same can be said of Excel 2007. I have a class which uses Excel's solver function. After "upgrading" to 2008, I learned that this function was gone, so I had to reinstall 2004. Solver is still in 2007, but seems to be quite buggy. Report generation often fails. Very disappointed in Microsoft even if the new formatting for pivot tables is pretty spiffy.

One of the posters mentioned the added cost aspect to dual booting with windows. Many universities have site licenses for Windows, so there may not be any extra expense to run Windows using bootcamp.
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NcR

 
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Yah that's right and I got a copy of Windows myself. But is it really worth the price to own a Mac and use it running Windows 80% of the time ?
That's what makes me reconsider my choice actually..

(Cause MacBooks are sooo pretty !)
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CUZ28

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NcR View Post
Yah that's right and I got a copy of Windows myself. But is it really worth the price to own a Mac and use it running Windows 80% of the time ?
That's what makes me reconsider my choice actually..

(Cause MacBooks are sooo pretty !)
You could always ask the department about the software typically used in their courses. I've had some accounting and econ courses and never had a need for a computer. Granted, they were basic classes, but I doubt you'd use specialized software for anything approaching a majority of the time.
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NcR

 
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That's indeed what I've thought of as regards directly asking them.

Actually, the only thing that makes me reluctant to switch to a mac is the matter of Office. If you guys assert that the suite developed for Mac is not as complete as the one for Windows, that may be a big problem.
Further more, if I come to use Office in my future life (work, uni), that will probably and surerely be on windows operating platforms:

- on the one hand, I shall remain in the "windows mould" for as long as I have to study and work with it.
- on the other, my curiosity is extremely strong towards Apple computers .


I'm gonna ask the unis about the using of computers and "possible windows only softwares" and from then on make a final decision.


Thank you very much for all your personal experience testimonies and advices .
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MacHeadCase
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NcR View Post
Yah that's right and I got a copy of Windows myself. But is it really worth the price to own a Mac and use it running Windows 80% of the time ?
That's what makes me reconsider my choice actually..

(Cause MacBooks are sooo pretty !)
Makes no sense at all. You don't buy a Mac to run Windows. My suggestion would be to stick with a WinBox.

It would be a good idea if Windows was used on a Mac just occasionally for apps that don't have a Mac equivalent but mostly just to run Windows apps? Nah.
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yogi

 
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I am an Economics student myself.

Though I am not in the Accounting line, I know for sure that those doing accounting use only SAP - I don't think it's Mac-compatible. But most of these guys tell me they have to do most work by hand and hardly use SAP.

Business administration and economics are highly text-based social studies. I've been using a Mac in this line for a while now and hardly ever ran into any problem. The biggest problem I had was a CD with some videos that didn't run on my Mac - I needed to get Windows for that.

But my best guess would be that you won't be using accounting software all the time (about 10% max) and thus would recommend a Mac.

I also suggest you see your Uni's website for any list of software, computer recommendations and ask senior students if you know any

You won't get to the Software part of accounting for at least a year or two anyway.

As for Office 2008: It works like a charm and handles Office 2007 very well. It's quite different, and lacks some of the novelties introduced in Windows, but it does a solid job and I use it every day.

Excel is full-fledged and knows all the formulae, again I have never encountered any problem in Excel but I also haven't pushed the limits. Really depends on what you're expecting to do with it :-)
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NcR

 
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An Economics student ! yogi thanks for your participation into this thread, this is extremely helpful!

I'm not supposed to get specialised in accountancy, just said that my studies were general economics oriented, specialising in Management. So I'm gonna tackle a bit of everything and that's why I need something solid as far as the productivity suite is concerned.

Your comment on Office joins the progress of my searches about it: eventually, Office2008 changes mainly in the way everything is organized and layed out but keeps the same general content, with exception of some "Windows special stuff". That sounds better.
You said you had never encountered any trouble with it, well ... I've read many many people complaining about bugs and crashes .. :s. What version of Office do you use ? I would be interested in the Student one, which groups everything I need.

Again, thanks .
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technologist

 
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Just a thought...if you do buy Office, I'd get Office 2004 and then get the upgrade to 2008. Microsoft will give a free (shipping and handling) upgrade to Office '08 to anyone who purchases Office '04 before March 15.

That way, you get the fully functional (if slightly slower) Excel 2004, and the newer and flashier 2008 apps as well.
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yogi

 
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Well, I've used Office 08 for a few weeks now but never in class itself, because the semester begins on Tuesday for this year. And Office 08 has been out for just a month now.

I haven't experienced a single crash, I'm using the home/student edition. I think those issues are singular, and Microsoft Mac Business Unit is fairly brisk with updates on Office for Mac (at least better than Windows).

I suggest you go for it, Microsoft can't afford to have Office in a non-working state on Macs.


I personally did all my accounting by hand, with a calculator. And that was all. For business admin and economics, you'll be spending a lot of time behind books, and notes in class are all mostly text based, with the occasional sketch, which Office for Mac handles brilliantly in it's Notebook Layout mode, which is unique to the Mac and absolutely made for students. You can even record audio notes into a document (I use that to speak out some questions I have during class, I also use it to protocol group work).

I just got my Macbook Air and will be using a laptop in class for the first time on Tuesday, but I know a lot of Mac users there, they seem quite happy.
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NcR

 
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Thanks for the info technologist.

All that Mac stuff sounds great yogi, thank you very much for your feedback on this mac affair !
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