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Apple targets Microsoft with spreadsheet

Apple says Numbers packs a long list of handy and easy to use tools

Apple 's assault on Microsoft's Office suite of productivity apps continues. The latest addition is Numbers, a new spreadsheet application designed to take on Microsoft's dominant Excel offering.

Numbers arrives with a new version of the iWork productivity suite, announced yesterday at Apple's press event Stateside. In typical style, Apple's fearless leader Steve Jobs took a swipe at Microsoft's Office suite yesterday, describing Numbers as "a spreadsheet for the rest of us".

Apple says Numbers packs a long list of handy and easy to use tools and functionality. Readable formulas, intelligent tables and the use of multiple formats on single page are all part of the Numbers mix. And of course more charts, tables and graphs than you can shake a balance sheet at.

The net result of all this numerical jiggery pokery is what His Jobsness predictably described as the ability to crank out "gorgeous looking spreadsheets very quickly".

Oh, and Numbers naturally includes full support for importing and exporting Excel-compatible .xls files.

iWork suite

Existing applications in the iWork suite have also received a massage. Keynote, Apple's answer to Microsoft's PowerPoint presentation app, gets new transitions, themes and text effects. And Pages packs extras including built-in change tracking and better compatibility with MS Word.

As with the other new products and services announced by Apple yesterday, iWork '08 is on sale now at the Apple online store, priced at £55.