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Microsoft Works v4.5, Works Deluxe 99 or Works Suite 99
Which version is the right one for you?

Microsoft Works Suite 99A long time ago Microsoft developed a do-it-all program in DOS, that application was called Microsoft Works. Since then, we have tracked the program’s growth development enhancements through Windows 3.x versions to the latest and greatest version, Microsoft Works v4.5. The program is offered in the different configurations. They are Microsoft Works v4.5, Works Deluxe 99 and Works Suite 99.

Microsoft Works v4.5 consists of the following programs/modules:

    • Word processor
    • Spreadsheet
    • Database
    • Works Calendar, keep track of important dates
    • Communications module
    • Add-on modules for sticky notes, clip art and drawing

Works Deluxe 99 contains the Microsoft Works v4.5 program plus:

    • Money 99 Basic
    • Graphics Studio Greetings 99, a greeting card maker

Works Suite 99 contains everything in Works Deluxe 99 plus:

    • Microsoft Word 97
    • Encarta Encyclopedia 99
    • Expedia Streets 98

Our review is based on the Works Suite 99 and as such will include a discussion on the maximum products available. It will be up to the user to decide upon the version to best suit individual needs.

Installation
The hardware requirements to install Microsoft Works Suite 99 are:

    • Multimedia PC with Pentium 90 equivalent or higher
    • CD-ROM for Microsoft Windows 95 or later operating system or Microsoft Windows NT Workstation operating system v4.0 or later
    • 16 MB of RAM for Windows 9x; 24 MB of RAM for Windows NT Workstation
    • 354-469 MB of available hard-disk space for installation of all applications; 384 MB for typical installation. Internet Explorer 4.01 is required and included but any other browser may serve as the default browser after the installation is completed.
    • Quad-speed or faster CD-ROM drive
    • Super VGA, 256-color or higher-resolution monitor
    • Microsoft Mouse or compatible pointing device
    • 16-bit sound card, and speakers or headphones for sound

Encarta Encyclopedia 99 also requires:

    • 1 MB of additional hard-disk space required for each monthly installment
    • Local bus video with 1 MB or more of VRAM

Word 97 also requires:

    • 8 MB of additional memory to run WordMail
    • Microsoft Exchange client of Microsoft Outlook required to run WordMail

Additional items or services required to use certain features:

    • 14,400 baud modem; 28,800 or higher-baud modem recommended
    • Internet access, which may require payment of a separate fee to an Internet Service Provider
    • Windows-compatible color printer
    • Microsoft NetShow2.0 Server (included with Money 99 Basic component, and automatically installed)
    • Online updates for Encarta Encyclopedia 99 are made available on the Internet each month from July 1998 through December 1999.

The installed was as easy as just putting in the CD-ROM disk into the player and following the screen prompts. Using the Custom Installation option permits the selection of individual applications and components within those applications to load. No problems were experienced when the program was loaded using either of the three installation options: Full, Typical or Custom. A full installation took less than a half an hour using a Toshiba model 4010CDS notebook with a Pentium II – 266 MHz processor and 96 MB RAM. All installations were non-remarkable other than for their complete ease and error free operation.

Usage and observations
The programs included in Works Suite 99 work well as individual applications and may be installed as such. The real bonus comes from the way they work together to make a many faceted document or presentation package. Many features as well as program outputs are easily shared. A brief discussion of each program included in Works Suite99 is included below for your easy review.

Microsoft Works v4.5
Microsoft Works v4.5 is an integrated package containing word processor, spreadsheet, database, calendar, communications programs and several applets for such things as drawing, sticky notes and clip art. Simplicity and ease of use are this program’s best features for the new PC user. It delivers the best task automation available in a low cost integrated package. It offers the user over 40 different tasks to choose from and then the program’s easy to use wizards walk the user through document creation from beginning to end, including alternate layout/style selections. Examples of the types of documents you can easily create using the included wizards are:

    • Word Processor documents for newsletters, school reports and personal documents, letters, labels, envelopes resumes;
    • Databases for names and addresses, inventories and other lists;
    • Spreadsheets for loan calculations, basic accounting tasks and employee timeslips.
    • Calendar to track and schedule appointments as well as categorize items and easily set-up recurring items.

Its module integration is weak, requiring the user to cut and paste information between modules. Its easily accessible context sensitive is first rate and among the best, we’ve ever seen. The excellent help and wizards cannot make-up for the awkward module interface/compatibility if you need to move between/use different modules. The fine tutorial that comes with the program is probably the best hour you can spend to learn how to use its robust features. The program comes with an easy to read printed manual, which can answer ant questions you may have. The spreadsheet module covers 64 basic functions.

The word processing module has many features usually found in stand-alone programs costing many hundreds of dollars more. Wizards make accomplishing almost any desired task quick and easy, even for a beginner. The AutoSum and AutoFill functions for filling a series of data and summing rows and columns respectively are exceptionally convenient and more than make up for offering only 64 functions. The database module is excellent and creating customized reports is a snap using the wizards. The communications module, included with the program, is useful, allows logging on to BBSs but stops short of being able to log on to the Internet. The program comes with its own fonts and several hundred pieces of clipart, which you can optionally choose to install. If you are going to only learn one program in your lifetime then this is probably the best one you can choose to learn.

Microsoft Works v4.5 includes many features to make your computing experience easier and more enjoyable at the same time. To accomplish this Microsoft has included the following features in Works v4.5:

    • More than 30 task wizards
    • Over 100 templates for home, volunteer, civic activities, education as well as other areas of interest to the average user
    • 7,000+ high-quality clip art images to make documents and projects look professional and easy to create
    • Right clicking for frequently used commands
    • "Works Companion" written manual for reference or just getting started
    • Show ME Movies - short animated demonstrations show you how to do something
    • Easy Text makes it easy to add text the you use repeatedly
    • Easy Calc walks you through spreadsheet formulas, including using functions
    • Database Report Creator makes it easy to present just the information you want

Word 97
At the heart of any suite is its word Processor. Word 97 contains a great many automated, easily accessible productivity enhancing tools and wizards. Professional-looking documents may be created easily and quickly. Word 97 contains more than 38 new, 25 enhanced features, and a multitude of tweaks. Templates and styles abound. You can easily add to them by visiting Microsoft’s web site where new templates and graphics are always available and free of charge. Word is now the pre-eminent word processing program in the industry. It is a position well earned, as this program is a real powerhouse. You can do things you never even dreamed of doing. It’s Office Assistant, see 97 Programs section of this review, provides advice in a non-threatening almost intuitive way. Simple import and input, format, table creation and output options are just a right mouse click away.

Word has an AutoSummarize feature to easily create an executive summary or document abstract preparation options. It is easily customizable and yielded impressive, fast results. There is a document versioning feature that is a great help in keeping track of previous versions of a Word document in one file. It maintains information as to the date and time each version was saved. This feature can be easily toggled on or off. Importing part of a spreadsheet instead of the entire file is a snap. It is easy to change imported asterisks to bullets by selecting the test and right clicking on the selection and choose bullets. When you go to size an object, Word automatically changes the width to keep the object’s shape intact. As with all Microsoft 97 programs integration with the Web is seamless. Forging links to a Web page is easy enough and Word always reminds you where the link goes. There is ample help from several sources, including plain English questioning, from several sources.

Encarta Encyclopedia 99
Encarta 99 is Microsoft’s encyclopedic offering. It is a full-featured interactive, multimedia world of information. To make navigating through the extensive amount of information contained in Encarta there is a "new" contents page that gives you all the information available on a subject, including related articles, media Web links, Yearbook updates and supplemental sources. You can cut and paste from it and you can insert bookmarks for faster information recall. It features more articles, pictures, video, audio, animation clips and images (35,000+) than a traditional 29-volume encyclopedia. It offers thousands of prescreened Internet links to keep you up to date on the latest topics. The movie clips are a sight and sound treat to behold.

Money 99 Basic
Microsoft Money 99 Basic is a personal financial manager that easily takes all the guesswork out of organizing your finances. With the program you can easily track all your financial transactions, e.g. income, expenses, investments and savings. It makes paying bills, reducing debt or even creating a budget an easy matter—even for a person that has never tried to balance a check book before. You can use Money 99 Basic to create special budgets for things like car repairs or home remodeling projects.

The program begins with Your Financial Home Page. It contains your personalized information, financial news and a snapshot of your financial condition. To better manage your finances the program offers many easy to use tools such as:

    • Over 30 reports and charts
    • Summaries of the month’s activities
    • A forecast/preview of the month ahead automatically generated by Monthly Report
    • Status of your financial goals
    • Timely reminders generated from Advisor FYIAlerts about important events and account changes, such as going below a minimum account balance
    • The Answer Wizard allows you to ask questions in plain English, in words of your choosing and then gives you answer(s) to the question to solve your problem/answer your question
    • An electronic checkbook keeps accurate balances and makes bill paying easy
    • Easily balance your checkbook using Balance Views, which sorts your account register to match your personal bank statement
    • Use the Internet to receive and pay bills electronically
    • Download statements, access account information, or transfer funds from any of several hundred financial institutions, brokerage firms or credit card companies offering online services.

Money 99 Basic is so easy to use there is no longer any reason to not have your finances organized. Just inputting data into the program will yield more information, allow better financial control and offer hints for improvement far beyond the level of effort it takes to capture your financial information.

Graphics Studio Greetings 99
Microsoft’s Graphics Studio Greetings 99 lets you create Hallmark-quality cards, invitations, announcements, photo cards, stationary, e-mail greetings and more using its simple step-by-step create a greeting interface. It contains 3,500 predesigned templates, 15,000 thousand graphics, 500 photos and 126 fonts. The predesigned templates lend themselves to customization by adding pictures, a personal message or just changing the fonts. You can visit the Microsoft Graphics Studio Greetings 99 Web site where you can download free add-on packs as well as get ideas on how to make your celebrations more special. To make your greetings even more personal and special you can add your own photos by using Picture It! Express. Smart correction tools automatically repair red-eye, tint, contrast and brightness making it simple to get professional looking results.

A good color printer and high gloss quality make its output hard to beat. Hallmark offers thousands of Hallmark Connections Computer Papers card stock and matching envelopes to print your greetings. You can create beautiful personalized custom cards that will amaze and elate your family and friends. You can make cards quickly and at home using this easy to use program. E-mail greetings can easily be enhanced to add animated graphics, sound, music tracks or your own personal voice recorded message. All of your Greetings 99 projects are made easier by use of wizards contained in the program as well as a preponderance of friendly to use online help.

Expedia Streets 98
Expedia Streets 98 allows the user to customize maps to ensure maximum benefits for personal use. There are several tools and program functions to allow the user to put/locate desired information on a chosen map. The tools and functions are:

    • Highlighter Tool – Draw the best route between points and the program will even calculate the distance
    • Pushpins – Add customized information to your maps. The added text, graphics or even URLs (which can be launched right from the map) show up on the map in a bubble
    • Compatibility with Popular Databases – you can import information from databases, spreadsheets and word processing documents that can be saved to plain text or comma-delimited format. Imported databases can be automatically designated on a map. Comments like anniversaries or favorite restaurants can be noted in Pushpins. Imported address are added to Expedia Streets 98 database of locations, so they’ll be easy to find later on
    • Hotels and Restaurants – add your desired selections with or without supplemental information using Pushpins from the ZAGAT Survey of Restaurant listing or the Expedia Hotel Database
    • Points of Interest – Find local points of interest to put on your map. Expedia Streets 98 includes 565,000 points of interest such as major office buildings, libraries, cinemas, shopping centers, conventions centers and subway and bus stops in major cities

Expedia Streets 98 allows you to zoom in and out of maps and then print selected areas for cutting and taping into a larger map or pasting/exporting to other documents.

    • Map street addresses on more than 6 million miles of streets
    • 17,000 restaurant listings from Zagat survey plus listings for 350,000 other dining establishments
    • Accommodation listings of more than 13,000 hotels
    • Online links to the Expedia Travel Agent to book accommodations, car rentals and flights
    • Compatible with the latest GPS receivers
    • Create custom, portable maps for your Handheld PC running Microsoft Windows CE

Conclusions
You cannot go wrong buying Microsoft Works v4.5. It is by far the most complete, powerful and easiest to use version produced to date. If you can only get one program for your new PC then this is probably the one you should buy. Buying either Microsoft Works Deluxe 99 or Microsoft Works Suite 99 only increases the utility of the package through the addition of more programs and at an incremental price of only what on of the additional programs cost as a free standing application. This is probably the best dollar value on the market today for entry level user-friendly program(s).

ERP: Microsoft Works v4.5 $54.95
Microsoft Works Deluxe 99 $84.95
Microsoft Works Suite 99 $109

Microsoft Corporation
One Microsoft Way
Redmond, WA 98052-6399
Tel. 206.882.8080
Fax 206.936.7329
microsoft.com
 


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