Microsoft Works 9.0, best described as the ‘lite’ version of the industry standard Microsoft Office suite of software, has had a recent refresh for 2008. It offers cut-down versions of Word, Excel and Access and includes a dictionary and calendar/organiser.

The Microsoft Works 9.0 approach is much more user-friendly than Office, with a clean interface that allows you to either fire up individual applications manually or choose to work through a range of templates or projects. The selection of these is very good, and you’ll find you can work your way through a series of steps that involve using one or more of the applications supplied to perform activities such as manage a fantasy football league, plan a holiday or perform research and learn online.

Also of note is Microsoft Works 9.0's calendar and dictionary, the former of which supports multiple schedules and up to 32 individual calendars for different users.

All of this aside there’s not a lot more to Microsoft Works 9.0 aside from the cut-down Office applications themselves. We were a little disappointed by exactly how much Microsoft has streamlined their operation however, and as a result we’d expect all but the most casual of users to become frustrated at some point by the lack of control.

You’re very limited in the range of formatting options available in Word, which comprise mainly simple font and style changes. As such it pretty much restricts you to writing letters, although you will find mail merge control and the ability to create labels and envelopes, so if this is all you need to do you’ll be well provided for.

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