Office has been a highly capable product for years, making it hard for Microsoft to come up with compelling new features. New in Office Small Business Edition 2003 is great integration with SharePoint Services running on Windows Server 2003, allowing users to save documents to an internal web site with features like update notification, task lists, and version control. Tablet PC users get built-in support for Ink, letting you add handwritten notes and drawings to Office documents. Those with always-on Internet access will like the updated Task Pane, offering online help and potentially third-party services direct from the Internet. Outlook has been reworked in this edition, with a better interface and more secure e-mail reading. Office Word 2003 is enhanced with a new Reading view, using ClearType technology and automatic page-sizing for ease in reading online documents.
Overall Office Small Business Edition 2003 is comprehensive and feature-rich. There is also a professional edition, which adds the Office Access 2003 database manager and some additional features in the area of XML support and rights management. Office deserves its position as the leading productivity suite. It's an excellent deal, but makes less sense as an upgrade unless you have a tablet PC or will make use of the new collaboration features. --Tim Anderson