Microsoft Loads Apps into Works Suite

Microsoft on Thursday announced a new release of its Works Suite, which doesn't include any new core features, but instead bundles a number of consumer-oriented software titles. Microsoft Works is intended to offer a low-cost alternative to Office, while focusing more on home environments.

Works 2006, priced $50 more than the standalone $49.99 Works 8, includes the latest editions of Microsoft Money, Streets and Trips Essential, Digital Image Standard and Encarta. The idea, says Microsoft, is to help families be more productive with better organization and easy to use tools.

"Whether you're a multitasking mom or dad, your time is precious," said Kim Schaefer, product manager for Works Suite at Microsoft. Using the bundled tools, families can share photos and burn picture CDs, keep their finances up to date, lookup encyclopedia information and plan vacations.

For the new Works release, Microsoft has chosen not to update Word 2002, a sign that home users don't need the latest features found in Microsoft's flagship Office System. Works 8, released last year, was also not updated for the refresh.

"That's revealing about potential future plans for the suite and which components may be more appealing to consumers," says Jupiter Research senior analyst Joe Wilcox. "I do think the decision conveys a dangerous message, that Word 2002 (and maybe even Office XP) is good enough for most consumers and a time Microsoft evangelizes Office 2003 and Office 12."

Microsoft Works 2006 will be sold in retail stores for $99.99 USD, with a $20 mail-in rebate. Additional information can be found on the Works Web site.

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