Microsoft Works, Multimedia Edition. (Software Review) (Compute's Getting Started with Multimedia Applications) (Evaluation)
by Clayton Walnum
Buying applications for serious Windows computing is an expensive proposition. Luckily, there are alternatives to high-pricedwindows applications. One is Microsoft Works for Windows, recently released in a multimedia edition (Microsoft, One Microsoft Way, Redmond, Washington 98052; 800-426-9400; $199).
Works for Windows features a word processor, a spreadsheet, a database, and a drawing program. Moreover, the applications are integrated, making data sharing a snap. The best news is the price: Works for Windows costs less than you'd pay for most full-featured Windows applications. And as a bonus, the multimedia version includes an extraordinary tutorial and help system.
Works' word processor is a serious writing machine that boasts full editing and block functions, text alignment, headers and footers, and footnoting. There's even a spelling checker and thesaurus. As with most Windows word processors, the full WYSIWYG display shows your document exactly as it will print, including bold, italic, and underlined text.
The Works spreadsheet incorporates most of the functions an average computer user would need, including block functions, variable cell widths, absolute and relative references, cell searching, row-and-column insertion and deletion, and a WYSIWYG display. A large library of functions and data types round out this fine application's abilities.
With the Works database, you can quickly define a database form and edit it in a variety of ways. You can add and delete fields, sort records, set field alignments and formats, search for a specific record, use formulas, hide records, and query your database to find groups of related records. The database also features a powerful charting and graphing program. Finally, the Works drawing program, Microsoft Draw, lets you create various graphic objects and import them into the other Works applications. The program includes the tools for drawing shapes as well as the ability to cut, copy, paste, rotate, and group objects.
The multimedia Works tutorial and help features are among the best you'll see, not only including a nicely organized index, well-written text, and crisp illustrations, but also mini-movies that guide you with animation, voice-overs, and music.
If there's one weak point in the multimedia version, it's that it doesn't include a printed manual, Microsoft having opted to place the manual on the CD. While the CD-based manual is handy, you'll probably want a printed manual, which you can purchase for a pricey $35 plus $5.50 for shipping.
Microsoft Works for Windows is one of the best software values any Windows user is likely to find. Its suite of high-quality applications provides all you need for serious Windows computing, and the multimedia version offers state-of-the-art tutorials and help that will impress even the most jaded computerist. Unless you're a power-applications user or limit your PC strictly to games, you'll be delighted with Microsoft Works for Windows.