Microsoft Office 2001 for Mac

The biggest change is Entourage 2001, an integrated e-mail and information management program built around Outlook Express 5. It features calendar and scheduling functions, as well as a vastly improved contact manager. The scheduling functions integrate with all other Office applications, allowing tasks to be flagged and linked.

Word 2001 has a cleaner interface, with some toolbars redeployed as floating palettes. It also incorporates the Encarta dictionary, which makes spelling checks more reliable and also allows you to look up definitions of words from within Office. You'd be surprised how often that is useful. Less prominent, but equally satisfying, improvements include an active word count at the bottom of the screen, and the ability to have any Office 2001 application add Windows file extensions automatically.

If you're one of the many people with database requirements that slightly exceed what Excel 98 can do, but for whom FileMaker Pro is overkill, Excel 2001's powerful list manager is a boon. Excel 2001 allows simple lists to be created, filtered, sorted and analysed in any number of ways.

PowerPoint has also been rejigged, including much stronger support of QuickTime. Not only can any media type supported by QuickTime be dragged onto a PowerPoint slide, but presentations can be output to QuickTime movies. This transforms PowerPoint into a very powerful QuickTime creation tool.

Office 98 was a massive leap ahead for productivity software on the Mac. Office 2001 is a smaller leap, but it is a big improvement. Users looking to migrate to Mac OS X might hold off buying Office 2001 until the Carbon-compliant version is released next year, but for everyone else, this suite is highly recommended.

Microsoft Office 2001 for Mac

Price: $914, upgrade $554

Supplier: Microsoft

Phone: 13 2058

URL: www.microsoft.com

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