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Microsoft Works Suite 2005 review: Microsoft Works Suite 2005

This year's collection includes Microsoft Works, Microsoft Picture It, Microsoft Streets & Trips 2005, Microsoft Money Standard Edition, and Microsoft Encarta. As a family, you could do well with Microsoft Works Suite 2005, but small businesses should look to Corel WordPerfect Office 12.0 Home Edition for productivity.

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Microsoft Works Suite 2005
The Microsoft Works Suite 2005 (MWS 2005) packages popular Microsoft software alongside Microsoft Works 8.0, an entry-level productivity app designed to create text documents, read spreadsheets, and view PowerPoint presentations. The suite contains five CDs and includes Microsoft Word 2002, Microsoft Works 8.0, Microsoft Picture It Platinum 10.0, Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia Standard 2005, Microsoft Money Standard 2005, and Microsoft Streets & Trips 2005. MWS 2005, which sells for less than $100, represents a better buy if you're planning to purchase the included Microsoft apps separately. Business users, however, are better off buying the competitive Corel WordPerfect Office 12.0 Home Edition for full-strength versions of its latest word-processing and spreadsheet software, which are fully compatible with the latest offerings from Microsoft Office. Microsoft Works Suite 2005 is geared strictly for home use.

Some people might like the white areas of the Works interface, but we found it a waste of space.

When you launch MWS 2005, the task manager opens automatically on the Calendar tab, displaying the current month and any pending appointments. A second tab contains contact information for family and friends. Icons across the top of the screen give you instant access to various resources that include built-in templates, such as those for recording housing or vehicle information; additional integrated programs within the suite, such as Money; project templates, such as one for coaching a sports team; and a history of recently saved documents for easy retrieval.


Microsoft Works Suite 2005

The Good

Includes popular Microsoft apps, such as Word, Money, Encarta, and Streets & Trips.

The Bad

Doesn't include Excel or PowerPoint apps.

The Bottom Line

Designed for families, not businesses, Microsoft Works Suite 2005 contains all of the tools to plan and budget a family vacation, then edit the digital images afterward.

Unlike WordPerfect Office 12.0 Home Edition, which includes the latest versions of WordPerfect and Quattro Pro, MWS 2005 includes an old version of Microsoft Word from 2001 (Microsoft Word 2002) and ignores its popular spreadsheet app, Excel, in favor of Microsoft Works 8.0, the suite's namesake. Works does an adequate job of reading spreadsheets, scheduling activities on a calendar, and even displaying PowerPoint presentations, but we still think it's a poor substitute for the latest Microsoft Office apps.

Like Corel's WordPerfect 12.0 Home Edition, MWS 2005 includes its own digital-image editing package, Microsoft Picture It Platinum 10.0, which provides basic editing tools and the ability to create photo albums. There's also an online encyclopedia, Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia Standard Edition 2005, a far superior app to Encyclopedia Britannica offered within the WordPerfect 12.0 Home Edition. MWS 2005 also includes two popular Microsoft standalone apps: Microsoft Streets & Trips 2005, a popular map maker and trip planner, and Microsoft Money Standard 2005. In contrast, Corel's WordPerfect 12.0 Home Edition includes only financial templates, not a full-blown financial software app, and it lacks map-making software.

Unlike WordPerfect 12.0 Home Edition's disjointed assembly of apps, MWS 2005's offerings work well together. For example, a family that's planning a vacation and the budget to support it could use the apps within MWS 2005 to provide background research on historical sites along the way and use it to write their own personal journals and edit their digital photos upon returning home.

Microsoft provides ample online support for its MWS 2005 suite, via online knowledge-base articles, e-mail, and FAQs. Our e-mail questions were typically answered within one business day. Technical support is also available by phone 24/7, however, free tech-support calls do incur toll changes. Dialing Microsoft's toll-free number, on the other hand, will cost you a flat $35 per request.


Microsoft Works Suite 2005

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 8Support 7