REDMOND, Wash., Sept. 20, 1999 — Microsoft today announced the availability of Works Suite 2000, the newest version of the company’s home productivity software. Works Suite is an integrated collection of software designed to help consumers complete all of their home projects more quickly and easily.
To understand what the suite offers and how it has been improved to meet the needs of home PC users, PressPass spoke with Hillarie Flood, product manager for the Works Suite. Flood works in Microsoft’s Home and Retail Division.
PressPass: What is Works Suite 2000 and what is it used for?
Flood: Works Suite 2000 is a complete productivity solution for your home PC. We’ve compiled a collection of applications that, based on our research, give people all the tools they need to accomplish every household task for which they may want to use their home computer. With the applications in Works Suite you can easily write a letter, create a greeting card, pay bills, write a school report, plan a vacation, edit photos and accomplish a variety of other home projects.
PressPass: For whom is the product intended?
Flood: Works Suite 2000 was developed specifically for home users and the types of tasks they need to do every day. It’s not designed for home businesses or people who work at home.
PressPass: How does Works Suite 2000 differ from Microsoft Office?
Flood: We’ve designed Works Suite 2000 specifically for use in the home, and we’ve taken a task-based approach with the product. Microsoft Office is designed for business users, and it provides a variety of specific tools. To accomplish a task, you need to know which application to use. By contrast, Works is designed for home users and allows them to choose what they want to do based on specific tasks they want to accomplish. By taking a task-based approach, we’ve tried to make it easier for users to quickly perform the tasks they commonly do at home.
PressPass: What are some of the everyday tasks that home users can accomplish using Works Suite 2000?
Flood: What’s unique about the home environment is that you typically have multiple users with different levels of experience using one PC. You might have a child at home who’s doing a research project for school, and she needs to find information about a country. So she can click on
“Search the Encarta Encyclopedia,”
then take that information into Word and write a school report. From there, she can go into Home Publishing and make a cover page for her report. She can even include her own photos — or pictures from Encarta — and edit them using PictureIt! Express.
The adults in the household might be planning a family vacation, so they might want to go into Expedia Streets & Trips and explore different places to travel, learn how to get there and find interesting things to see when they arrive.. They might be balancing their checkbook, paying their bills and managing their investments using Money. They might be sending e-mail to stay in touch with friends and family. They may be doing a home inventory using a spreadsheet, or keeping track of friends and family in the address book. They might be using the calendar to record and check appointments so they don’t miss events. Works Suite 2000 really has something for everyone in the home.
PressPass: What major improvements did you make to Works Suite 2000?
Flood: One of the major things we focused on was integrating the applications so there’s one place to go to launch into the things you want to do. All of the applications are now accessible from the Task Launcher.
PressPass: How does the Task Launcher work?
Flood: The Task Launcher presents different task categories on the left-hand side of your screen. Among the categories, for example, are
“letters and labels,” “household management,”
“research and education.”
You select a category, and on the right-hand side of the screen a list of tasks pops up such as
“write a letter,” “pay a bill,” “create a greeting card,” “shop online,”
“create a home inventory.”
Once you select a task, it walks you through a wizard that brings up several templates to help you get started. So the Task Launcher takes you directly to what you want to do, and at no point do you have to decide which application you should use. You select the task, and it takes you to the best application to accomplish that goal.
PressPass: What else did you include to make Works Suite 2000 easier to use?
Flood: We also incorporated
technology, which allows users to ask questions using familiar terminology. Suppose you want to mail a letter to everyone in your PTA. You may not know the terminology
so in the past, you’d search through the help index looking for
and you wouldn’t see the topic. With the Answer Wizard, you just type in,
“How do I do a mass mailing?”
The help system responds by explaining what “mail merge” is and how to do it.
PressPass: What specific applications does Works 2000 include?
Flood: Works Suite 2000 includes Works 2000, Word 2000, Encarta Encyclopedia 2000, Money 2000 Standard, Home Publishing 2000, Expedia Streets & Trips 2000 and Picture It! Express 2000.
PressPass: Are these the same applications that were included in Works Suite 99?
Flood: We actually added a couple of new ones. Works Suite 99 included Greetings Workshop, which was primarily intended for designing cards, invitations and e-mail greetings, but Works Suite 2000 includes Home Publishing, which offers a broader range of home publishing opportunities. For example, with Home Publishing, you can design personal Web pages, newsletters and brochures, and you can create crafts like masks and gift baskets.
We also included PictureIt! Express, which expands the creativity people can experience using their PC. It’s a great tool to get your photos onto your PC via a scanner, digital camera or imaging CD. You can then clean up the photos and incorporate them into your documents. For example, once you’ve cleaned up the photos using PictureIt! Express, you can drop them into a greeting card or garage-sale flyer you’re designing in Home Publishing. Or you can take the photos into a report you’re developing in Word. We’ve also included Expedia Streets & Trips. Users now can actually plan a vacation from point to point. They can also book hotel reservations and accomplish a broader range of tasks than they could with Streets alone.
PressPass: How did Microsoft decide which applications to include with Works Suite 2000?
Flood: We’ve done a lot of research to examine the top tasks people want to do in the home and how the PC can best help them accomplish those tasks. When you look at what people are doing, they’re communicating with friends and family — whether that’s through e-mail, over the Internet or actually printing a letter and sending it. They’re doing personal finance, tracking investments, paying bills and balancing their checkbooks. Children in the home are writing school reports and completing different projects. By surveying our customers and examining independent industry research, we identified common tasks home users want to accomplish. And then we designed Works Suite 2000 and the applications included in the product to make it easier for people to accomplish those tasks using their PC.
PressPass: When will Works Suite 2000 be available and how much will it cost?
Flood: Works Suite 2000 will be available at the end of September for an estimated retail price of $109.