We use cookies to provide you with a better experience. If you continue to use this site, we'll assume you're happy with this. Alternatively, click here to find out how to manage these cookies

hide cookie message
Office software Reviews
15,670 Reviews PC Advisor Gold Award

Microsoft Works Suite 2006

£70 inc VAT

Manufacturer: Microsoft

Our Rating: We rate this 4.5 out of 5 User Rating: Our users rate this 4 out of 10

The 2006 version of Microsoft's budget-friendly alternative to Office brings some hefty software into the mix. Reading the list of applications brought to mind a line made famous by late-night US TV commercials: 'But wait, there's more!'

The 2006 version of Microsoft's budget-friendly alternative to Office brings some hefty software into the mix – including Word 2002. Reading the list of applications in Microsoft's £70 Works Suite 2006 brought to mind a line made famous by late-night US TV commercials: 'But wait, there's more!'

We checked out a shipping DVD version of Microsoft's suite aimed at home users. It has the same four apps that the existing Works 8.0 bundle contains – a plain-Jane word processor, Excel-compatible spreadsheet, basic database and a calendar program. You also get a few additional applications we found particularly useful.

Works Suite 2006's extra applications include Word 2002, the Digital Image Standard 2006 image editor, Encarta Encyclopedia Standard 2006, the much-improved Microsoft Money Standard 2006 and Streets & Trips Essentials 2006. These four would cost well over £100 if sold separately, so from the start it's clear that this suite is a good deal.

The core Works 8.0 applications appear to be identical to the versions in previous releases. However, the inclusion of Word 2002 makes the word processor superfluous – in features it's similar to Windows' free WordPad program. The best aspect of the Works spreadsheet app is its ability to open and save files in Excel's .xls file format.

You won't find Excel's support for formulae and sorting/formatting options, though. Like the other Works apps, the database uses its own proprietary file format. It also lacks Access' relational capabilities. The Works calendar is a breeze to use and its ongoing support for the iCalendar standard simplifies sharing your diary via the internet.

Beyond basic

The Digital Image Standard 2006 image editor is a welcome addition to the lineup. This program replaces Microsoft's lame PictureIt imaging app with a modern tool for enhancing, combining and presenting still images. You can use its Digital Image Library to manage (but not edit) video files and assign ratings, keywords and labels to your pictures.

In addition to offering basic mapping features, Streets & Trips Essentials 2006 can serve as an in-car navigation system if you have a notebook with a GPS receiver – although this version lacks the turn-by-turn voice instructions of the standalone release. And in lieu of a GPS signal, the program's Locate Me feature can use a Wi-Fi finder to pinpoint your location.

Encarta Encyclopedia Standard 2006 is the only app here to receive a design makeover since the previous edition appeared. It has a cleaner interface, with fewer items on each page and a more prominent search box. Online updates are free and the company says it adds content roughly every 10 days.

Finally, enhancements to Money Standard 2006 include the ability to pay bills online from multiple bank accounts and a feature called Spending Trackers that alerts you when you're approaching budget limits in various categories. The 2006 release has fewer noteworthy new features than 2005, but it's still well worth the upgrade.

Cheaper than chips

While Works Suite 2006 is the most versatile budget application on the market, there are others that can still beat it in terms of value for money. If your budget doesn't stretch to spending any money at all, and you can do without bundled digital imaging apps or encyclopedias, then there's really only one option worth considering: OpenOffice.org 2.0.

OpenOffice.org 2.0 is the freeware version of Sun's low-cost Star Office Suite. It offers an all-important word-processing application, plus spreadsheet and database building features. And there's an equivalent to Microsoft's PowerPoint so you can create presentations. It also has the ability to read Microsoft Office files.

Home users, small businesses and educational facilities on super-tight budgets are now regarding OpenOffice.org as a valid alternative to the dominance of Microsoft's mighty Office Suites.

Microsoft Works Suite 2006 Expert Verdict »

700MHz Pentium lll processor or equivalent
Windows 98SE/Me/XP
128MB RAM (256MB recommended)
3.1GB hard disk space
  • Ease of Use: We give this item 9 of 10 for ease of use
  • Features: We give this item 9 of 10 for features
  • Value for Money: We give this item 9 of 10 for value for money
  • Overall: We give this item 9 of 10 overall

We can't believe Microsoft has managed to pack in so many useful applications at such a decent price. Home PC users looking for a low-cost alternative to Microsoft Office will find Works Suite 2006 a capable option. And its extras would make it a bargain at twice the price.

  • OpenOffice.org 3.0 review

    OpenOffice.org 3.0

    Whether OpenOffice 3.0 is right for you comes down to this decision: can you live without the latest features in Microsoft Office 2007?

  • OpenOffice 3.1 review

    OpenOffice 3.1

    The latest version of the open-source office suite OpenOffice.org 3.1 has just arrived, and it's a good one.

  • OpenOffice.org 2.0 Beta

    If you're thrifty and you use an office suite, it's hard not to like OpenOffice.org. Version 1.0 does most things Microsoft Office can do. And it's free. So what's to improve?

  • LibreOffice 3.5 review

    LibreOffice 3.5

    LibreOffice 3.5, the latest version of the open source productivity suite, brings better Office interoperability and improved user experience, but some rough edges remain.

  • LibreOffice review


    The Document Foundation has made its first release of LibreOffice, set to take the crown of the best free Office software.

IDG UK Sites

Best camera phone of 2015: iPhone 6 Plus vs LG G4 vs Galaxy S6 vs One M9 vs Nexus 6

IDG UK Sites

In defence of BlackBerrys

IDG UK Sites

Why we should reserve judgement on Apple ditching Helvetica in OS X/iOS for the Apple Watch's San...

IDG UK Sites

Retina 3.3GHz iMac 27in preview: Apple cuts £400 of price of Retina iMac with new model