GCN Lab: Suite treats

An array of office programs let you match your needs with functionality and the right price

NO MATTER YOUR occupation, chances
are you need to do the same basic tasks as
people in any other job. You need to write
documents to communicate with others or
keep records. You need to crunch numbers
and organize data in tables. You need to
present your ideas in an attention-grabbing
manner.

The software industry long ago recognized
these basic needs and assembled office
productivity suites. They often include
additional applications such as e-mail and
database programs, but they will always include
the three basic applications: the
word processor, spreadsheet and presentation
program.

Early on, there were only a few office
suites and, as a consequence, prices for
them were fairly high. Several other companies
have since entered the game, offering
comparable performance for considerably
lower prices, sometimes even for free.
As a result, the progenitor companies have
responded, improving their suites and even
dropping prices a bit. There are a wide
range of suites available at different prices,
so an organization can get the suite it needs
for the price it's willing to pay.

We asked Corel, IBM, Microsoft, Sun Microsystems
and ThinkFree to send us their
current office productivity suites. We then
took a close look at the basic components
' word processor, spreadsheet, presentation
tool ' of each suite, noting how easy
they were to use along with how they exchanged
information with one another. We
also noted additional applications, such as
e-mail or database programs, and any
other features. Lastly, we looked at the
price with respect to what the entire suite
offered.

About the Author

Greg Crowe is a former GCN staff writer who covered mobile technology.

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