BOSTON — Three big software companies, led by Microsoft, produce "suites," bundles of workplace/productivity software.
All the suites offer programs that can be purchased separately but are cheaper as a package. Users can get special "upgrade" prices if they have any company's universal "Works" program loaded on their computer.
Here's a rundown on each package, plus prices and market share for the earlier versions of the software in 1996.
Microsoft Office 97
Unit sales for 1996: 18.8 million
Microsoft's new suite comes in four versions, for different audiences.
Price: $499, $249 upgrade (if you own the predecessor, Office 95.)
Target market: Business
Includes: Microsoft Word (word processing), Excel (spreadsheet), PowerPoint (business presentations), and Outlook (e-mail and an organizer)
Price: $599, $349 upgrade.
Target market: Large business
Includes: Same programs as standard, plus Access (database), and Bookshelf (dictionary, thesaurus, encyclopedia).
Office Small Business Edition
Price: $499, $249 upgrade
Target market: Small business
Includes: Word, Excel, and Outlook, plus Small Business Financial Manager (links spreadsheets to an accounting program such as Intuit's Quicken), Publisher (Microsoft's "marketing department in a box"), and Auto Map Streets (a street mapping and location finder).
Target market: Home computer users. This product doesn't carry the Office name, but is essentially part of the family.
Includes: Word, Works (an umbrella program with modest spreadsheet, database, drawing, and modem programs, and a calendar), Greetings Workshop (makes greeting cards), Encarta (an encyclopedia), and Arcade (for computer games).
Price: $399, or $149 for an upgrade.
Unit sales for 1996: 8 million
Includes: Lotus 1-2-3 (spreadsheet), Lotus Word Pro (word processor), Lotus Approach (database), Lotus Freelance Graphics (presentation graphics), Lotus Organizer (time management software, with calendar, to-do list, address book, and call manager), Lotus ScreenCam (multimedia software).
A SmartCenter, comparable to Microsoft's Outlook, helps store, organize, and launch projects.
Corel Office Professional
Price: $549, or $300 for an upgrade
Unit sales for 1996: 1.9 million
Includes: Corel WordPerfect 7 (word processing), Corel Quattro Pro 7 (database), Corel Presentations 7 (presentations), Envoy 7 (electronic publishing), InfoCentral 7 (information manager), DAD (Desktop Application Director; connects applications), Corel Draw (graphics), and several other products.