Apple unleashes Numbers spreadsheet with new iMac

Californian computer maker Apple has launched one of its cheekiest attacks yet on the might of Microsoft with a new software bundle designed to challenge the might of Office.

The iWork '08 suite introduced alongside the latest slimline iMac computers includes the Pages word processor, a presentation package called Keynote and Numbers, a rival to Microsoft Excel.

This being Apple, Numbers is not being presented as just another spreadsheet, but a new approach that in the words of chief executive Steve Jobs is "far more intuitive and easy to use than anything else out there".

Apple explains that where traditional spreadsheets lock you into a rigid matrix of rows and columns, Numbers is based around a background "canvas" on which you can create and position multiple "intelligent" tables alongside graphics and multimedia files. Readymade templates as well as on-screen rulers and alignment guides are included to help lay documents out on the free-form canvas.

The intelligent tables can be constructed by dragging elements from a library of 150 functions, including interactive checkboxes and sliders that let users change cell values easily to see the impact of changing scenarios. To add more rows and columns is a matter of grabbing the table corner and pulling it down and to the right, and summary calculation boxes can be added with a single click.

For compatibility, iWork '08 can take imports from Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, Excel and AppleWorks files. Files can be exported in Microsoft Office formats or PDFs.

The full iWork suite costs $79, and a 30-day trial version will be bundled with the new Intel Core 2 Dual-powered iMac machines.

By John Stokdyk, for our sister site, www.accountingweb.co.uk

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