Microsoft Office Standard Edition 2003
is a bundle of the most essential desktop applications: Word 2003 for word processing, Excel 2003 for spreadsheets, PowerPoint 2003 for presentations and Outlook 2003 for e-mail and personal information. Office applications share a common look and feel, which means there's less to learn when switching between them. There are also shared components, such as the drawing tools, which let you create charts, diagrams and text effects. Another strong point is that Visual Basic for Applications is fully integrated, enabling anything from simple macros to custom solutions that automate one or more of the Office applications.
Office has been a highly capable product for years, making it hard for Microsoft to come up with compelling new features. New in Office Standard Edition 2003 is great integration with SharePoint Services running on Windows Server 2003, allowing users to save documents to an internal website 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 constant 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. Word 2003 is enhanced with a new Reading view, using ClearType technology and automatic page-sizing for ease in reading online documents.
Although this is the Standard edition, it is comprehensive and feature-rich. There is also a professional edition, which adds the Access 2003 database manager, Publisher 2003 for desktop publishing 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
Excel 2003 enables you to turn data into information with powerful tools to analyze, communicate, and share results. Excel 2003 can help you work better in teams, and help protect and control access to your work. In addition, you can work with industry-standard Extensible Markup Language (XML) data to make it easier to connect to business processes. Outlook 2003 provides an integrated solution for managing and organizing e-mail messages, schedules, tasks, notes, contacts, and other information. Outlook 200...