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Works Suite 2006

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Microsoft Money 2006 is on hand to help you manage your personal finances, and it’s another very capable and highly regarded piece of software. It’s stuffed to the gills with every kind of feature, will help you manage your bills, budget and your investment portfolio, and track your spending habits and cash flow as well. If you’re the type who wants to keep a close eye on your finances, this is definitely a big bonus.

Rounding off the package is Encarta 2006, the company’s now venerable multimedia encyclopaedia. With online services, access speeds and the quality of reference websites rising all the time, having a digital encyclopaedia on disc at home is not quite the draw it once was, a fact reflected in Encarta’s current retail price, which is now below 20 quid. But it’s still nice to have one trusted source of information on your local machine – it means you don’t have to rely on Internet services that may not be available 24-hours-a-day.

Verdict

You could argue that alternatives for much of the software included in Microsoft Works Suite 2006 can be had for free online and to a certain extent you would be right. Open Office now offers a mature and advanced suite of applications, mapping and route-finding tools can be found on Google and various other sites for free, you can use Picasa for managing your digital images and The Gimp to edit them, while encyclopaedia resources are ten-a-penny.

But if you’re after Microsoft Word buying this package for a penny short of £70 makes an awful lot of sense, even more so when you start to tot up the retail value of each of the packages included here. Exluding the core packages – Word 2002 and Works 8 – buying the full versions of all of the software in the package separately would set you back over £100.

It’s probably not worth an upgrade if you already own a previous version, but if you’re just starting out with a bare bones PC, Microsoft’s latest Works Suite makes a terrific starter package to get you up and running.

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