Microsoft MapPoint 2002 review: Microsoft MapPoint 2002

This app includes a wealth of demographic data, including 2000 census estimates, so you can build maps that illustrate everything from income to education distribution. (The identically priced European edition includes similar local data.) Of course, you can create maps from your own data, either by drawing one from scratch or by using data from Excel or Access.

Works swell with Office
You'll get the most out of MapPoint using it alongside Microsoft Office 2000 or Office XP. Some Office 97 apps may interact with MapPoint, importing maps and data and, in some cases, exporting data to MapPoint. However, MapPoint works best with the Office 2000/XP editions of Word, Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint, and Publisher. If you have the newer editions of the Office apps and have MapPoint installed, MapPoint adds new toolbar icons and menu choices to the other Office applications, weaving in commands that let you, say, plan a route from an address in Word, create a map of addresses from within Outlook, or link Excel spreadsheet data to a map.

MapPoint 2002 also paves a smooth path to the Web. It saves maps and their details as Web pages--perfect for posting directions to your business on your site--and even updates the Web version of your map whenever you change and save the local file.

No MapPoint in Office XP
One MapPoint detail really gets our goat: the disappearance of mapping skills from Office XP. (Office 2000 included an elementary mapping applet, Microsoft Map, but it's not in Office XP.) MapPoint is much more capable than Microsoft Map, and we wonder if the maker removed MapPoint from the suite just to force us to buy something extra. As of now, no edition of Office XP ships with MapPoint, and even Microsoft's $50 rebate for Office XP reduces MapPoint's cost only a little--to about $200.

At that price, you may choose to do without MapPoint. However, if you're running Office 2000 or XP, MapPoint 2002 is worth the upgrade, if only to take advantage of the suitewide integration. Running an older version of Office? Save your money.

MapPoint 2002's new Drivetime Zone feature--shown here by the blue line--indicates how far employees can drive in a specified time (in this example, 30 minutes).

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