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PC Reviews: Microsoft Works Suite 2004

Home productivity is the key to this product and in my opinion Works Suite 2004 has it in spades. Featuring a full suite of software (hence the name) Works is the one stop shop for those wishing to compose documents, spreadsheets etc.

Possibly one of the most important things to realise about this product is that it is now a must have item for those with older systems. For those not in the know, the brilliant new Office 2003 does not work on any operating system older than Windows XP or 2000. I guess that it's a sign of the time and a clear indication that Bill wants you to upgrade but it had to happen sooner or later. Microsoft's track record for backwards compatibility over the years has been pretty good.

As always installation for this product is an absolute breeze, though somewhat lengthy due to the sheer abundance of software included with the package. A typical install of the products is 1050mb so be wary of what you do and don't need when putting it all on the hard drive.

I know that some users who might be making the move to Works may be dubious as to the quality of this package as it has often been referred to as the poor brother of Office. Take it from me that this is not the case, this is some good quality software that will enable the average user to do everything they need to and more without the need for Office. It is true that for the most part that the Office 2003 equivalents do have a bit more functionality than the Works counterparts, however the average user doesn't even begin to explore these; there's just no reason to.

The navigation system for Works has changed a fair bit since the last incarnation and in my opinion makes for a much smoother navigational experience. Though I must confess that I am a stickler for just using the start menu for selecting any programs that I want to work with. The new nav page is similar to other Microsoft products that I have covered recently and makes it easier for new users who are familiar with other software to get in and start using Works quickly.

Something that did impress me was that Microsoft have once again included the full version of Word 2002 (XP) with this software. Word was probably the one product in the lot that if you were going to notice any real difference between an Office product and it's Works equivalent, then Word was going to be the culprit. It's possibly the one main program that a lot of users actually utilise more functionality of the program than Works Word Processor (which is still included for those who would prefer the smaller install).

The other nice thing about it is that for those of us with a Pocket PC, we can rest assured that your copy of Word is going to work just fine with your trusty pocket companion. I was able to move files and upon further checking, even contacts across to my IPAQ 1910 with absolutely no difficulty at all. Certainly makes for a real difference when being mobile with your work in this manner. My only gripe is that for the US release there was also a copy of Streets and Trips 2004 included. It would be nice to see an Australian version of that included as S&T from all my reading seems to be a very handy piece of software.

Rounding out the actual Works experience are the Works Spreadsheet (similar to Excel) and Works Database (Access). These handy pieces of software once again will work the same way as the programs that they are similar to with only the absence of some of the higher functionality of both programs. No great loss unless you desperately need these things. Finally there is the Calendar feature which compliments the addition of Outlook Express which most folks will already have on their PC. I guess there may be some folks who need it.

We then finally have both the Money 2004 standard edition, Microsoft Photo Standard,  and Encarta Standard edition. Please see our PC review section for indepth looks at both Money, Photo Standard and our review of Encarta 2004  Premium for an overview of these products. The only thing to note is that Encarta Standard is a fairly poor cousin to the Premium Suite, however with the context of this package is a great resource for students and users wishing to access reference materials easily and effectively. The other reviews accurately illustrate what to expect from Works Suite 2004.

What more is there to say about this brilliant package? Quite simply if you do not have this product in any earlier versions, it is a must have product. Nowhere will you see such value for money in one jam packed package. Users will be impressed with the power that Works Suite 2004 brings to the home environment. I would however weigh the pros and cons of buying the software if you already own Works Suite 2003 as whilst there have been improvements, to the untrained eye they are mainly cosmetic. In fact that is the only reason that this product did not get rated even higher than I did.

Very highly recommended, and another hit by Microsoft!

- Tory Favro

The Final Say!


Microsoft Works Suite 2004
 reviewed by Tory Favro
Review Score: 9.1/10 
Distributor: Microsoft

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