Microsoft Office 2001 for Mac

Office 2001 is the integrated package Office 98 ought to have been. The applications Word, Excel and PowerPoint now employ a common interface, and are joined by Entourage – a personal-information manager (PIM) and messaging client. Word has been improved significantly by the introduction of context-sensitive floating palettes. For example, instead of drilling down through menus and dialogues, or navigating tear-off toolbars, you can edit document, text and picture attributes from one Formatting palette. The Data Merge Manager palette, especially, makes setting up and handling mail merges logical and controllable for the first time. Word’s Web documents can include nested tables, and you can import 24-bit images onto any page. The new Picture palette lets you retouch bitmap images with brush strokes, or apply filter effects directly within Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Excel’s principal upgrade feature is the List Manager. This inserts a special framed-area within your spreadsheet purely for entering list data. The List Manager applies colour, and re-arranges data without affecting its appearance. The autocomplete feature, which saves time entering repetitive data, now memorizes multiple entries that begin with the same letters or numbers, not just one. There’s a new floating calculator, which though ridiculously big, is great for testing formulas before entering them into your worksheets. PowerPoint now has a better default interface which shows the current slide, notes and outline structure in a three-paned window. Presentations can be saved as QuickTime movies. More than one master template per presentation can now be used, and an intuitive table-layout can be added directly to a slide in real-time. Entourage looks like Outlook Express, but with a beefed-up contacts book and fully customizable calendar and to-do functions. All of these can be accessed from the other Office applications: the contacts book forms the source of your Word mail merges, for example, or an item in your to-do list can link to specific documents. The Calendar can even be used to arrange meetings with other iCalendar-compliant PIMs. Minimum specs:
120MHz PowerPC; Mac OS 8.1 or later; 32MB RAM with at least 1MB of Virtual Memory for systems prior to OS 9.0; 48MB RAM with at least 1MB of Virtual Memory for OS 9.0 or later; 160MB hard-disk space.

OUR VERDICT

This final release version of Office 2001 compares very favourably with the betas we have tested over the summer. It runs faster and cleaner than expected, and is easier to use for the expert as well as the beginner. One day, Microsoft may be talked into adding a database to the suite, but, until then, Office 2001 does the trick.

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