Majority of us who have access to computer and internet gained the basic experience/exposure to various office software. Personally, I do not have a formal training in the application of available computer software in the market. In general and in most cases, we learned it through our employment or in school as part of our daily work.
Purchasing a set of personal computer (PC) or a laptop/notebook, this office software like Microsoft Office (MS Office) or Works Suite is already installed in the unit. However, due to piracy law enforcement, the computer stores installed it in a trial use basis or else you have to buy the software separately! If you are lucky, some dealers (like DELL) provide the back-up CDs for the operating system of the PC and the rest of the software for future computer breakdown/set-up.
When I got my new Sony Viao notebook, my MS Office (Word, Powerpoint, Excell, Outlook) is on-line trial basis for 60 days. Having that, I decided to borrow from my cousin the unopened/un-used new complete pack of Works Suite version 2004 as my back-up office software prior to MS Office expiration. Fortunately, my cousin gave it to me as a gift to ensure that Im only the sole user of the software. Believe it or not, this package is worth keeping!
**OVERVIEW: WORKS SUITE 2004
The computer office software package has 6 major functional elements, namely:
- research and learning (Encarta Encyclopaedia)
- travel planning (Streets and Maps)
- personal finance (Money Standard)
- home organization (Works)
- communication (Word)
- photo editing (Picture it, photo premium)
For the highlights of the package, my review mainly focuses on the most relevant features of the software which I believe very important to everyone such as: Encarta, Works, and Photo editing. The rest of the features are not deemed important like the streets and maps since it focus most of its data to the US territory (it is obvious Microsoft is a US-based firm). Instead of using this, I suggest to use an updated websites if you want to search for direction and location. And besides, maps are already featured in Encarta and it is lot more easier to navigate. The MS Word (for creating documents) is just the same with the one with the MS Office XP professional (business or home version), except that it is part of the templates within the MS Works (version 8) Task Launcher homepage.
**MS WORKS LAUNCHER/PROCESSOR
The Task Launcher home menu is the starting point of MS Works and it is much more organized and user friendly than MS Office. It has its own demo feature to tour/guide you in the overall features of MS Works which cover Works Word processor, Works spreadsheets, Works database, Encarta Encyclopaedia, Money and Streets and Maps. Within the task launcher homepage, it has four sub-main pages, namely: templates, history, projects and programs.
Briefly, the big difference of MS Works from MS Office is that I can view my appointments and contacts, and at the same time launching any of the Works programs. The calendar tab will provide the information of my appointments with corresponding time and day/week within the month. Using the Contacts tab, it will easily show the list of contact numbers from the address book and sending an email to the contact is by just clicking the name and it will automatically open a new email message and goes directly to MS Outlook Express). The other feature is that MS Works Processor offers dozens of templates and tasks to help me find information and create great-looking documents such business cards, greeting cards, flyers, newsletters which you can not find in the MS Office package. Specifically, using the Works Word Processor, I can do a lot of things which does not require separate software. Also, the Projects feature the To Do List where I could personally tract down the tasks I need to accomplish a project. And within the Launcher menu, I can view my previous documents or files with corresponding date and programs used.
Unfortunately, MS Works does not have the Power point presentation feature or for graphical works, instead it has only a Power point viewer to retrieve or view previous documents. So as the feature implies, I can not do any editing works in the documents. By the way, using the Works Word Processor, there is no big difference compares it to MS Office Word. If I have a document written in Works Word (with extension of wps), I can open it with MS Office Word and convert it (with extension of doc).
** ENCYCLOPAEDIA AND GAMES
The MS Encarta Encyclopaedia Std covers five main features: articles, maps, games, photos and statistics. Using the articles feature, it is very easy to navigate and find the word or phrases you want to know, from a to z, including the list of countries and basic information for each country. You can also navigate using the maps and statistics features where you could visually see the geographical location of a city or country. I think, this is a complete collection of the vocabularies and information - putting dictionary, almanac, thesaurus and maps into one!
This is the think tank of the package where you also find amazing facts, figures and information relating to historical events, literary prize-winners, motion-picture awards, sports champion, etc. And I even explore the various national anthems (audio) of countries that I have already visited using the photos & more feature. I also enjoyed the interactive feature, wherein you could find the graphical presentation and discussion of the chosen topic and at the same time, it will also link to the related articles that contain such topic.
The featured games (Mindmaze) is more interactive and interesting compared to the traditional games in the MS Office (minesweeper, solitaire, freecell, hearts, etc.) and most of the quizzes are link to the website. The Mindmaze is something that will measure your general knowledge covering various areas of interest like: geography, social science, sports, history, performing arts, physical science, etc.
**PHOTO FEATURE (PICTURE IT)
This feature is well-suited for digital imaging and quite similar features with other existing imaging software (MS Office Picture Manager or Paint Shop), having 4 main components, namely: Touch-up pictures, Apply special effects, Edit Multiple Pictures and Printing and Sharing
Using the touch-in feature, I can easily sharpen blurred photos, remove red eyes, straighten pictures, and can do editing of any specific part of the pictures. Special effects include the alteration/modification of the photos, and I can also include messages/texts. One feature that is also interesting which I can not find to other basic photo imaging is having a multiple editing of group of pictures. Printing on-line is also covered using the MSN photos or even sharing the photos with handheld devices (mobile and internet phones).
Overall, this feature is quite comparable to my Olympus Master software to improve the format and lay-out of the pictures, wherein I could add artistic frames or edges or borders to come-up with postcards. Finally, it has a self help menu and instructional video to assist users in performing various commands, including tutorials and troubleshooting which MS Office Picture Manager does not have.
To run the software successfully, it requires the following PC or laptop/notebook features:
- Operating system requirements: MS Windows 98 (RAM 64MB) or MS Windows 2000 edition RAM 128MBN or MS Windows XPs RAM 128MB
- Minimum Processor type: Intel Pentium 500 MHz
- Minimum RAM Size 128 MB
- Peripheral/Interface Devices Sound card, mouse or compatible device, 4x CD-ROM, SVGA monitor
The complete package of the MS Works Suite 2004 has 5 discs with the following labels:
- Disc 1: MS Works Suite 2004 set-up, MS Works 7.0, MS Word 2002 and MS Works Clipart
- Disc 2: MS Money 2004 Std, MS Streets and Trips 2004 installation, MS pocket streets for pocket PC
- Disc 3: MS Picture it! Photo premium
- Disc 4: MS Encarta Encyclopaedia
- Disc 5: MS Streets and Trips 2004 Run CD
**REMINDER: DO NOT LOSE THE CD CASE! The case contains the product CDs and product KEY which bears the Certificate of Authenticity which will be needed for every software installation.