All Boxed Up
Think small-business consultant-in-a-box. Turn here for a suite of software that integrates seamlessly with your contact data in Microsoft Outlook and helps manage and develop customer relationships. Microsoft Office 2000 Small Business packs plenty of power. In addition to Microsoft Word 2000, Excel 2000 and Publisher 2000, you'll also want to take advantage of the included Business Planner module, which offers a number of friendly templates you can use to easily produce business and marketing plans. Other cool features: Direct Mail Manger, for cost-effective direct-mail campaigns, and Small Business Financial Manager, a powerful business analysis module that can handle a plethora of "what-if" small-business scenarios.
Microsoft Office 2000 Small Business
Street price: $430
Requires: Windows 95/98, 20MB RAM, 360MB hard-drive space
J.W. Dysart (firstname.lastname@example.org), a software analyst and Internet business consultant, has written for more than 40 publications, including The New York Times.
One For All
One of the few truly comprehensive office packages on the market, WordPerfect Office 2000 Professional is a must-buy word- and data-processing solution. Besides artful word processing, the suite also offers an excellent voice-to-text program, easy-to-use slide show creation module and Microsoft Visual Basic for custom application programming. Whether you're looking to simply dash off a quick note, create a template-enabled business card or newsletter, or put together a sophisticated multimedia presentation for the road--or for the Web--this is the program for you.
Wordperfect Office 2000 Professional
Street Price: $399
Requires: Windows 95/98, 48MB RAM, 260MB hard-drive space
Products printed on dead trees don't usually make it to "E-Ware," but we had to make an exception for this one. A truly comprehensive look at PC software, The Software Encyclopedia 1999 is without question the last word on what's out there. You won't find every single software program on earth here. But you will find more than 27,000 software titles in its two volumes. Each listing features a description of the title and includes crucial contact data for the software manufacturer. A major bonus: Volume 2 of the Encyclopedia groups software listings by industry application. So if you're looking for programs in industries as specific as hydraulics engineering or audio-spectrum analysis, you'll find them here.
The Software Encyclopedia 1999
Street Price: $239
New Providence, New Jersey
Maybe your Web site is edgier than a flea's razor. It still won't bring in the green if people aren't at ease parting with their precious credit card data. Use Catalog 3.0--a complete online Web store design solution--and your site will feel more comfortable than their favorite pair of jeans. This catalog software features 128-bit encryption for credit cards--the same encryption technology approved for use by many major banks. Plus, you'll find predesigned templates for quick design of your e-commerce site, auto-calculation of delivery charges based on geography, weight and all other pertinent factors--and a slew of additional performance tweaks culled from existing user input.
Street Price: $399
Requires: Windows 95/NT, 32MB RAM, 30MB hard-drive space, Internet access, Web site, written with Pearl 5 or higher with user-written CGI capability
East Brunswick, New Jersey
Why set up a simple Web shop when you can become a cybermall magnate? Supermall--a deluxe version of Actinic's Catalog software-- puts that dream at your fingertips. Besides being able to manage multiple shops from a single PC, Supermall also enables you to offer any and all would-be lessors in your mall a 30-day free trial. Experienced PC users will be able to set up their first mall shop in about 30 minutes. And all users will appreciate the program's ability to make all changes to the stores offline.
Street Price: $2,900 for first five shops
Requires: Windows 95/NT, 32MB RAM, 30MB hard-drive space, Internet access, Web site written with Pearl 5 or greater with user-written CGI capability
East Brunswick, New Jersey
Even the most modestly funded start-up can present itself as an established player with company-branded T-shirts created with this package. Using template guides, no-nonsense first-time users will be able to crank out 10 or more T-shirts sporting a simple business logo in a single afternoon. And more creative types will appreciate the thousands of images, fonts and photos that can also be used to brand sweat shirts, sweat pants, visors, mugs, puzzles, candles, boxer shorts and photo frames--for starters. Hanes T-Shirt Maker Premier's purchase price includes one-year free access to http://www.ArtToday.com, a Web-based image vault with more than 750,000 images, fonts and photos.
Hanes T-Shirt Maker Premier
Street price: $49
Requires: Windows 95/98, 16MB RAM, 90MB hard-drive space, color inkjet printer
Redwood City, California