Microsoft Word 97 established the word processing application as a market leader. During an unprecedented period of popularity in personal computers, Microsoft Word quickly found itself in almost all businesses and many homes, establishing itself as the de facto standard for creating written documents. As part of the Office 1997 software package, users were able to use the program to create simple documents and quickly became familiar with the toolbar and menu driven user interface which remained consistent through later releases up to 2003.
The DOC file extension has become so synonymous with word processed files that it is arguably the most widely known file extension. Used for files created by Microsoft Word for DOS through to Word 2003, the format has seen a huge number of improvements but was superseded with the release of Microsoft Word 2007. Many users of Word 2007 continue to use the old DOC format to ensure compatibility with other users from different businesses.
Files with a .pages file extension are word processing documents created by Apple's "Pages" application which forms part of Apple's iWork office suite, a set of applications which run on the Max OS X and iOS operating systems, and also includes Numbers (for spreadsheets) and Keynote (for presentations). Pages is a hybrid application, first released by Apple in February 2005, that allows users to perform both word processing and page layout tasks. A direct competitor to Microsoft Word (part of Microsoft's "Office" suite) it originally aimed to take a more simplistic approach to document creation and editing than Word, stripping out many of Word's more complex features.
Pages includes over 140 Apple-supplied templates to allow users to create common documents such as posters, newsletters, certificates, reports, brochures and formal letters - iWork '09 added support for a further 40 new templates. Pages can used to create custom documents which include charts, tables, images, text boxes, shapes, equations and graphs. It incoporates most of the key features found in modern word processors, including the selection of fonts based on WYSIWYG ("what you see is what you get"), the use of headers, footers, page-breaks, footnotes, bulleted lists and support for automatically generating a table of contents. Pages also comes with the standard spelling and grammar checkers, and provides support for ditching the keyboard to use the dictation capabilities of OS X Mountain Lion. Pages provides tools for collaboration through change-tracking and advanced commenting and feedback features.
Pages integrates well with other Apple applications - Since iWork '08 a media browser has been incorporated which allows users to drag and drop photos, movies and music from iTunes, iPhoto, Aperture and iMovie, and it is possible to link charts produced in Numbers to .pages documents so that they update when that data is changed. Since the release of version 4.2 of Pages (in July 2012), it also supports the auto-syncing of documents through iCloud
The key advances in Pages are summarised below:
First version - basic features - tables, columns, headers & footers, and some formatting.
Released in iWork '06. Includes 3-D graphing, inline searching, page management, comment support and new table tools.
Released in iWork '08. Introduced a contextual format bar, change tracking, grammar checking (via "Proofreader"), support for Microsoft Office 2007 .docx files (Office Open XML) and image masking features.
Released in iWork '09. New features such as a running word count, full screen editing, equation support (via MathType), support for iWork.com, outline mode, improved support for Microsoft Office documents.
Support added for Mac OS X Lion, full screen document editing, auto saving, resume, document versioning, better compatibility with Microsoft Office.
Support added for Mac OS X Mountain Lion, document syncing via iCloud, retina display support, voice supoprt via Dictation.
Official file format specifications for iWork '09 pages files are not published by Apple but there have been attempts by somedevelopers to reverse engineer them. At the top level iWork '09 pages files represent a zip file containing:
An index.xml file
A buildVersionHistory file
A "QuickLook" directory with a "Thumbnail.jpg" of the document. The directory may also contain a PDF file named "Preview.pdf" if the user chose to save the original document with additional preview information in Pages.
The index.xml is the core component of the file, containing the document content and all of the metadata for formatting it. This XML is not standards-based as Pages does not support the OpenDocument file format used by Microsoft.
Files created by Pages in iWork '09 are not backwards compatibile with earlier versions of iWork. Pages files cannot be opened by programs other than iWork.