Did Apple just make a huge mistake with its users?

People know I’m generally an Apple fan boy. I love my Macs, my iPhone, my iPad. But I’m not blind to the reality that Apple, like any other company, can screw up. And it seems to me that Apple has really screwed up this month.

Amid all the fanfare about new iPads and OS X Mavericks, Apple also released new versions of its iWork suite: Pages (for word processing), Numbers (for spreadsheets), and Keynote (for presentations). I’ve been using the iWork applications since they were first released back in the mid-2000s. Each new revision brought helpful features and improvements.

Until now.

If you take a look at the Pages discussions going on over at the Apple Support Communities, it isn’t pretty. The discussions about Numbers and Keynote are also looking bad.

From what I can tell, Apple decided to make the Mac versions of its iWork apps function “better” with the iOS versions of the same apps. In doing so, Apple took a lot of functionality out of the Mac apps. It’s one thing when an upgrade “moves” a feature so you can’t find it immediately, but it’s completely different when the upgrade deletes a feature—like the Styles drawer in Pages.

I’m a heavy user of Pages, working with it almost daily. I get into Numbers a couple of times a month, and I use Keynote on occasion. This upgrade, however, has left me gobsmacked. Just as iWork was beginning to become a serious replacement (not merely alternative) to the MS Office suite, Apple has hobbled it.

So, take some advice from me. If you use iWork apps on your Mac, and you haven’t updated to the new versions—DON’T. At least not until you put copies of those apps in a safe place. (I am SO thankful that I use the Mac OS X Time Machine. I just went back a couple of weeks and restored the prior versions of the apps. So far all seems to be well.) If you have installed the new versions, check your backups to see if you can restore the prior ones.

This is an “interesting time” for Apple (in the sense of the ancient Chinese curse). Is this going to turn out to be a moment like where Apple basically said, “No one is going to use floppy disks anymore. We’re not putting them in new Macs any longer”? Or will this turn out to be a moment like the Apple Maps iOS app disaster? I’m hoping it’s the latter and that some serious fixes are on the way.

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