Originally published Monday, June 26, 2000
Often during my Microsoft Office training courses,
students are distraught to learn, after a few sessions, they don't
actually have Word or Excel installed on their own systems, as originally
thought. "I'm just sure I have Word! It says Word Processing, doesn't
it?" Alas, they discover what they really have pre-installed by the
computer manufacturer is Microsoft Works, not Microsoft Word or Excel.
Upon recovering from this disappointment, they're even more distraught
once they learn the hefty asking price for a new or upgrade version to
Don't despair. Microsoft Works is not a dumb-downed version of Microsoft Office, but rather a hearty, user friendly application that's perfect for home, school and many small business applications. It may not be the full-bodied business package of its granddaddy, Office, but it's very acceptable and quite functional. And what's even better, Microsoft Works Suite 2000 actually includes Microsoft Word!
Works 2.0 for DOS was one of the very first software applications I found truly useful. Eons ago, while struggling through WordStar, dBaseII and Lotus, I found my early needs amply met with the MS Works software package, which integrated word processing, spreadsheets and database operations smoothly into one program. Although I've since migrated to Office, I've followed the upward rise of Works and always keep a current copy on my desktop since some features, especially the templates, are so professional looking and easy to use.
For students, there are school templates for bibliographies, lab sheets, calendars, school reports, theses, and resumes. Teachers too will enjoy templates for grade books, certificates, tests and student information records. Remember that the beauty of a template is it's all pre-formatted and generated automatically simply by answering the step-by-step questions in the wizard.
Additional templates are available for home, business, employment, volunteer and civic activities, and billing tasks. Valuable business templates include brochures, cash flow statements, quotations and invoices. Because of its functionality and ease of use, Works is often the "go with" software package of choice bundled with many new PCs. It's understandable for beginners to confuse Works with Word, since many of the formatting commands are similar on first glance.
In addition to the templates, labels and form letters easy to generate thanks to the seamless integration of the database and word processing modules in Works. Most standard Avery labels are supported for such tasks as name cards, or file, address and disk labels.
The latest version of Microsoft Works comes in three varieties: Works 2000, Works 2000 Suite Basic and Works 2000 Suite. All versions start with the basic Works 2000 package ($55). The Suite 2000 Basic adds on Microsoft Money and Encarta Encyclopedia ($80). The real value is the Works 2000 Suite, which actually includes Microsoft Word ($109). By itself, Word is more valuable than the additional Suite "go withs", Home Publishing 2000, Expedia Streets & Trips and PLUS Picture It! Express.
Compare these prices to Microsoft Office for true sticker shock. On the low end, Office Standard is $249 if you're upgrading from a previous Office product or $449 for new users. At the high end, Office Premium runs $449 for the upgrade and $799 for new users. These prices are discounted to manufacturers when Office is installed on new PCs, but that doesn't help if your system was delivered with Works.
Granted, the Works Suite doesn't include Excel, Access, PowerPoint or FrontPage but if you want powerful word processing and fundamental spreadsheet capabilities, with a plethora of useful templates, the $109 Works Suite 2000 is a bargain. For additional information: http://www.microsoft.com/works/
Cathi Schuler owns a computer literacy training/consulting company, Cee Prompt! She is a co-author of computer textbooks and can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com or by mail c/o The Record, P.O. Box 900, Stockton, CA 95201. She is on the Internet at: http://www.ceeprompt.com. Click here for past archived columns.
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