The BeOS office suite lacks maturity and sophistication

The BeOS office suite lacks maturity and sophistication

By Michael Cheek

GCN Staff

BeOS 5 has potential as a powerful alternative to the leading desktop operating systems, but what it really needs is an alternative to the leading office suites.

The Productive 2.0 suite from Gobe Software Inc. falls way behind the curve, although it does have potential in future versions.

Its clean interface is easy to use, mostly because sophisticated functions are missing. Any office suite should be able to access standard document types. Productive 2.0 can pull in some common ones, but it loses the formatting and complex components.

Productive 2.0 acts more like the crippled Microsoft Works than Microsoft Office. Its word processor, spreadsheet, presentation and graphics components seem feature-starved.

Productive 2.0 has a simple interface'too simple to import other suites' formatting. Its basic word processing functions are feature-starved.

The no-frills word processor applet operates well. Spell-checking is by word selection, not on the fly.

Some people might prefer it that way, but Productive 2.0's dictionary lacks basic words such as Linux, e-mail, conferencing, online and many others. The spell-check also had problems with contractions and abbreviations such as they'll, we're, Jr., Blvd., DVD and B.A.

Productive 2.0 has interpreters for Microsoft Word .doc files and Excel .xls files. But BeOS incorporates very different font families, so the files arrive looking different anyway. Sophisticated layouts do not come through. All graphics are simply dropped.

Box Score

Productive 2.0

Office suite for BeOS

Gobe Software Inc.; Portland, Ore.;

tel. 503-228-6308

Price: $80

+ Only office suite for BeOS

' Lacks sophistication

' Can't correctly interpret Microsoft Office files

Real-life requirements:

BeOS 4.5 or higher version, 64M of RAM, 25M of free storage, CD-ROM drive

Productive 2.0's interpretation of Excel documents proved worse, although the formatting was all right.

The Gobe spreadsheet could not handle merged cells and had difficulty with multipage documents. It could not pick up values in one page from another page within the same file. It also dropped chart objects in spreadsheets.

The presentation portion of the suite looked and acted more like a drawing component except for the ability to page through a document.

The drawing and graphics portions were pretty basic.

Hey, what can you expect from a suite that costs $80? And it's only in Version 2.0. Microsoft Office 2000 is up to 9.0. Give Productive 2.0'and the BeOS'time to mature.

Meanwhile, stronger translation of existing documents would help push both suites along.

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