Even a scaled down version of Microsoft Office can be expensive for a student or home user without a need for some of its more advanced features. Microsoft Works is a quality home office software which aims to provide key productivity features at a lower price more likely to appeal to casual users. Whereas most office software addresses common workplace scenarios, Microsoft Works has functions targeted at the home user—tasks like creating invitations, scheduling family events or tracking a budget. With an affordable price tag and variety of features tailored for the modern household, we can comfortably recommend Microsoft Works to our readers.
The Microsoft Works word processor is a barebones utility compared to the full edition of Microsoft Word. For the home user, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Microsoft Works comes equipped with templates for letters, resumes, greeting cards, invitations and other typical documents likely to be of use in the course of the average family’s week.
The most notable and arguably most useful feature of the Microsoft Works package is the Works Calendar. The Works Calendar is essentially a basic version of the Outlook calendar and business contacts manager. You can schedule events for specific days and times and share them across your home network. While we can’t imagine many homes scheduling dinner via database, the calendar is useful on a family computer as a means of keeping track of everyday events and activities.
Microsoft Works also includes a spreadsheet editor with basic functionality. Works spreadsheets have everything a basic user could want, but don’t expect to see advanced algorithms or multi-threaded equation processing.
Microsoft Works doesn’t allow you to create presentations. It does however include a PowerPoint presentation viewer.
Microsoft Work’s native file formats—WPS (document), WDB (database) and WKS (spreadsheet)—are of very limited use when working with other software. Even Microsoft Word has occasional difficulty addressing Works files. Microsoft Works 9 has addressed many formatting issues by supporting DOC and XLS formats. But, if you’re trying to use Office 2007, WordPerfect or OpenOffice files, Microsoft Works will not open them without the help of a conversion utility. As for Works files themselves, we recommend saving them as Microsoft Word files (DOC) to avoid formatting problems.
Microsoft’s support network is immense. Users have access to a wealth of templates, FAQs and support documentation. User forums and official support documents cover every conceivable troubleshooting and tech support issue. Should you need live assistance, Microsoft tech support is available to Windows Live members.
On its own, Microsoft Works is an excellent home office software. In the larger context of email attachments, moving files on USB drives and opening third party files however, Microsoft Works is often ineffective. If you’re looking for a basic word processor and a scheduling utility for your home computer, Microsoft Works is a good option. If, on the other hand, you need to open, edit and exchange documents and spreadsheets, we would recommend one of our top ranked home office software packages; Microsoft Office Home and Student 2010, Corel Home Office or StarOffice.