iWork productivity software targets Microsoft's Office

Steve Jobs says Apple's new-from-scratch software suite will be a big improvement on previous packages.

SAN FRANCISCO--Apple Computer announced its iWork '05 productivity software suite as part of a cavalcade of products putting it on a collision course with Microsoft and its Office suite.

Apple chief Steve Jobs announced iWork '05 on Tuesday at the Macworld trade show. The $79 package includes Pages, a new word processing program developed by Apple, and an updated version of Keynote, a slideshow application Apple introduced two years ago. The company also introduced the $499 Mac Mini, new flash-memory-based iPods and other releases.

The software will be available in the United States on Jan. 22 and worldwide Jan. 29.

The Mac maker's current AppleWorks productivity package has achieved only modest market share, mostly in educational settings, and the company's FileMaker database software has never posed a significant threat to Microsoft's similar Access.

However, Jobs said one of the major advantages of iWork will be its integration with the Mac OS X operating system. "iWork is a product we've created from the ground up to take advantage of OS X," he said during his speech.

Pages and Keynote 2 will also be integrated with Apple's updated version of iLife, iLife '05, which includes new versions of iPhoto, iMovie, iDVD, GarageBand and the latest version of iTunes.

Pages allows consumers to create letters, newsletters, reports, brochures and resumes while also making it easy to drag and drop photos from iPhoto into documents.

Photos will also be easily inserted into Keynote 2 using iLife as will movies and music.

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