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Software Review

Home Essentials 98 by Pati Sazma

    Microsoft has put out a terrific little bundle called Home Essentials 98. Several of the components may be old-hat but inside this program's package is just about everything you need to get working on a computer.

     Most people are probably familiar with Microsoft Word. This is the basic word processing program. In it you can type letters, resumes, newsletters and school papers, etc. It comes with a spell checker and a grammar checker. While the grammar checker is a nifty aspect, I still would review the contents rather than rely totally on the computer for the in and outs of the English language.

    Microsoft Works is, to me, the business end of the program. In it you can create spreadsheets and data bases. You can also use the address book for friends as well as business associates.

    Microsoft Encarta 98 is an encyclopedia. This was fascinating. By clicking on different topics you can actually see and hear history. It made the "Encyclopedia  B" I grew up with look like a dinosaur.

    Microsoft Money 98 is a money manager, very similar to the Quicken family of products. This program gives you the ability to do on-line banking, which I think is the wave of the future. Just think...the bank opens at your more standing in chance of being held up while standing in line. You can balance your checkbook, do long term financial planning, develop budgets etc. And if you have a business you can set the program up to do both home and work finances. The program is not too difficult to use once you get going, and after you've used it for awhile it becomes a piece of cake.

    Also included in the package are Microsoft Internet Explorer and MSN, The Microsoft Network. The first is an internet browser and the second is an Internet access program. To be honest I had no need for either of these segments so I didn't give them a second look. (Bill Gates, forgive me.) NOW ON TO MY FAVORITE PARTS!     

    This package had some fun enclosed with all this serious stuff. The first bit of fun was Microsoft Greetings Workshop. This program allows you to create your own greeting cards, address labels, banners, newsletters, award certificates, etc. Anyone who knows me knows this is my favorite thing to do on the computer and Greetings Workshop is a catchy little package. It is not as sophisticated as some of the other options on the market, but as a component of this bundle, it is perfect. It was easy to use and quick to learn. Children as well as adults will learn quickly and enjoy creating their own projects. Since I bought a similar program I haven't purchased a storecard, and this program will easily allow you to do the same. It also has the capability for you to upgrade to more clipart, and as far as I'm concerned you can never have too much clipart. This type of program can be addictive.

    And speaking of addictive, I come to the last component of the package, Microsoft Entertainment Pack....The Puzzle Collection. Who says computer games have to be mindless? The Puzzle Collection has 10 different games that require some thought while at the same time allow you to do what I love best...have fun on the computer. All of the games are relatively easy to learn but challenging to master.

    All in all Home Essentials 98 is one of the best packages of software I have seen in a long time. This is an investment that will pay for itself in no time.

Pati Sazma