How Suite It Is

Microsoft Office 97 comes in large and small sizes

Been looking for the perfect office suite for your business? Chances are, one of the versions of Microsoft Office 97 will fit the bill. The standard, professional and small business editions of the suite are all well-integrated and have new improvements that will likely shore up its position as the best selling office suite.

Internet functionality is key to the suite, and is integrated into each component, letting you make the most of the Web with the least hassle. If you’re a novice, you’ll also find the new, animated office assistants helpful and engaging. There is also an abundance of wizards, automated tasks which make working with Office 97 easier.

All versions include Microsoft’s word processor (Word) and spreadsheet (Excel) programs, which have been revised to offer better formatting and automation capabilities. Word 97 includes improved desktop publishing abilities including: a table-drawing tool that allows you to use the mouse to sketch a table directly onto the page, flexible text frames and Web integration, which lets you to create simple Web pages with or without assistance.

Excel 97 introduces improvements that will make spreadsheet mavens a lot less edgy. Formulas can now be built using personal data heading, rather than cell addresses, that can be automatically checked as they are entered. Formatting improvements include the ability to merge several cells, rotate text in a cell and color code cells depending on their value.

Outlook 97 replaces Office 95′s group scheduler and personal information manager Schedule+. It includes an inbox and messaging client, which handles universal e-mail formats and can send multiple-choice queries to coworkers. Its calendar can tentatively pencil in meetings that are received in the inbox pending your approval. These and additional improvements offer more functionality than Schedule+.

This is where the versions of Office 97 part company. The standard and professional editions include improved PowerPoint (presentations) and Access (database, included in professional edition only) programs and Camcorder, a utility that captures on-screen activities and turns them into movie files. You won’t see any of these features in the small business edition. Instead, Microsoft has included other features it believes will be more useful for smaller companies.

The Small Business Financial Manager 97 works with Excel 97 to help you make better use of financial data. It includes wizards that can access financial data in an accounting system, create custom financial reports and set up “What-If” analyses for specific business scenarios.

Also included in the small business edition is Publisher 97, which lets you create everything from newsletters to Web sites. And, of course, there are wizards to help you through the process. The most interesting part of the program is its ability to turn anything you create into HTML format, the language used in Web pages (a feature it shares with all the other office applications).

Automap Streets Plus is the final piece of the small business edition. This useful tool can be used to find and map the locations of contacts throughout the U.S. Simply enter an address and the program will put a

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