Microsoft Works Suite 2003 review: Microsoft Works Suite 2003

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CNET Editors' Rating

4 stars Excellent
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Calendar makes appointments easy to find; a new Works Projects tool walks you through complicated chores, such as planning a family reunion; includes Word 2002.

The Bad Comes with too few Works project templates.

The Bottom Line Works Suite 2003 is a true bargain. It's the best at-home or at-school productivity suite--as long as you can do without Excel and PowerPoint--and it costs half as much as Office XP.

CNET Editors' Choice Sep '02

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Let's be clear: this ain't no office suite. Microsoft Works Suite 2003's new design and bundled apps clearly mark it for students and anyone who needs productivity software at home, and all but the tiniest of businesses should look elsewhere. This suite's less complicated apps cannot perform the same complex calculations as Excel, nor can they generate presentations as dynamic as those of PowerPoint. But for a mere $100, this suite contains plenty of family-friendly apps: a slick, Web-style task launcher; a simple spreadsheet, a database, a calendar, an address book, a fully functional copy of Word 2002, and a bunch of bonus software, including a mapping program, an encyclopedia, a personal finance program, and an image editor. If you can do without Excel or PowerPoint, this bargain home-productivity suite is the best software deal that Microsoft has to offer. Businesses, though, should spring for the overpriced Office. Let's be clear: this ain't no office suite. Microsoft Works Suite 2003's new design and bundled apps clearly mark it for students and anyone who needs productivity software at home, and all but the tiniest of businesses should look elsewhere. This suite's less complicated apps cannot perform the same complex calculations as Excel, nor can they generate presentations as dynamic as those of PowerPoint. But for a mere $100, this suite contains plenty of family-friendly apps: a slick, Web-style task launcher; a simple spreadsheet, a database, a calendar, an address book, a fully functional copy of Word 2002, and a bunch of bonus software, including a mapping program, an encyclopedia, a personal finance program, and an image editor. If you can do without Excel or PowerPoint, this bargain home-productivity suite is the best software deal that Microsoft has to offer. Businesses, though, should spring for the overpriced Office.

Make room
Clean out your hard drive because Works wants a big chunk of space. A typical installation chews up about a gigabyte of room, but at least you get to decide which parts of the suite to install; you can decline any component except for Works itself. Mac owners, as usual, are out of luck, and so is anyone still stuck with Windows 95; neither this suite nor the new, standalone Works 7.0 (available separately for $55) function with the Windows 95 OS.

Lots of goodies
Once you get Works Suite on your drive--installation took us more than half an hour--you'll have plenty of software to choose from. Works 7.0 itself hands over a simple spreadsheet app, an even simpler database, an address book, and more than 400 document and project templates for everything from creating greeting cards to making a family budget. Add to Works the full versions of Microsoft Word 2002, Money 2003, Encarta 2003, Picture It Photo 7.0, and Streets & Trips 2002, and you may feel overwhelmed.

New Task Launcher looks great
But don't worry. This version is easer to navigate than previous Works Suites. The Task Launcher, the main launch page for the entire suite, has undergone a significant overhaul and now displays a cool, tabbed interface. This new home page, which looks a lot like MSN Explorer's bubbly, colorful home page, displays icons that launch Word, Money, Picture It, Encarta, and Streets & Maps. You'll also find several links that open recently worked-on documents. Plus, Works now displays your calendar on its main screen, along with your appointments for the day, so you can view and update your schedule the moment you launch the program.

Also new to 2003, the Works Projects tab takes you to a page of convenient links to big-deal projects, such as family-reunion plans or sports-team coaches' rosters. Click one of the colorful icons, and Works shows a list of subchores to complete the project. Under the "Plan a family reunion" project, for instance, Works includes tasks such as building a family tree, scheduling the events, and finding online directions to the reunion locale--very cool. However, there are only 11 such projects, though you can create new ones yourself using the Blank Project template. We'd prefer more.

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Where to Buy See all prices

Microsoft Works Suite 2003

Part Number: B1100711
MSRP: $109.00 Low Price: $49.95 See all prices

Quick Specifications See All

  • Category office applications
  • Compatibility PC