Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

You Can't Pick a Bad Program from These 3

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

You Can't Pick a Bad Program from These 3

Article excerpt

Integrated software, which combines several functions such as word processing, spreadsheet and database, has never caught on with consumers the way stand-alone programs have.

Yet now that Windows has taken over most of our PCs, the hottest software packages these days are the competing "office" and "suite" bundles that integrate groups of stand-alone programs.

That's some irony, because the advantage of Windows is supposed to be that Windows programs from various manufacturers can coexist and even integrate with each other merely by virtue of being Windows programs.

But, in fact, Microsoft Office 4.2, Lotus SmartSuite 2.1 and Borland Office 2.0 do have added integration compared to the stand-alone versions of their components. More importantly, however, they provide bargain prices to those who really can use most of the programs they contain.

For large companies, particularly, they make it easier to assure that everyone has the same version of a program.

For single users, however, especially those who actually will use only one or two of the programs such as word processing and spreadsheet, it still may be cheaper to buy stand-alone versions of those programs and it may be cheaper in the future to buy upgrades for an individual program rather than an entire office package.

If you are a potential office software buyer, there are many factors, often conflicting, to consider in making a choice. But the good news is that you can't make a mistake. All three contain top-notch programs.

Of course if you already use one or more of the products, the choice is pretty easy - unless you happen to use the word processor found in one bundle, the spreadsheet in another and the database in a third. In that case, remember that database applications with custom forms and reports are the most difficult to convert to another program, followed by spreadsheets with fancy macros automating them. Word processing files are the easiest to convert.

If you're just getting started, I think Lotus SmartSuite is the best value because it contains the broadest range of programs that are needed to run a small business or home office. …

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