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Suite Dreams

Office suite upgrades: Do we need them? Are they worth it? Which one do we want?

This story appears in the November 1999 issue of

Do I have to upgrade? Should I? It's hard to miss Microsoft's full bore marketing campaign in support of its new Office 2000 suite, so you've got to be wondering if this is software you need. And the answer is: It depends. Most software reviews are of a "gee-whiz; it's new; it's great" variety, but that doesn't always work for homebased entrepreneurs who want reliable no fuss software that doesn't necessitate huge expenditures for new hardware just to run the stuff. With that caution in mind, let's dissect not only Office 2000, but also its chief rivals, Corel WordPerfect Office 2000 and Lotus SmartSuite Millennium Edition.

For starters, how old is your computer? On anything slower than a 200MHz CPU with 64MB RAM, these suites are plain pokey. They're also big. A full installation of the premium edition of Office 2000, for instance, gobbles up well over a half gigabyte of hard drive real estate. The others aren't as greedy--probably 200MB will do for loading most of the features--but with any of these suites, you need a reasonably powerful box with a spacious hard drive before even thinking about upgrading.

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