The Microsoft Works suite, if you are not familiar with it, is a productivity suite aimed at the low cost consumer market from Microsoft. This year it became part of the the Information Worker business alongside Microsoft Office and as such is now another of the 40 products I look after.
The basic Works 8 package costs about £32 and gives you the core document and spreadsheet capability along with calendaring, a powerpoint viewer and dictionary.
Works is a really good product suite. What is clever about it is that we are targeting it well to the home user who just wants a PC to do basic productivity suite, manage their photos, their money, let the kids do their homework and plan journeys and trips. It has lots of templates making it easy to write the documents most common at home.
The Works Suite 2006 comes with the full package of Works, Encarta, Money, Digital Image Studio and Streets & Trips. Perfectly targeting the home PC and just for £89.
I was also very pleased to discover that we won the Computer Shopper award for best productivity suite with Works Suite 2006. Here is Rob Gray (SharePoint PM) proudly posing next to my desk with the award.
The review of the product lists it as beating the rest to the best buy against all the main competitors in this bracket: Corel, Ability and OpenOffice.
For me this gets to the point I keep arguing with press about the inconsistency in comparing OpenOffice/Ability with Microsoft Office. It makes no sense to me to compare two products in different price brackets and aimed at different markets. Yes, possibly if you compare Ability with Office you may conclude that Office beats it hands down but Ability is cheaper but it might be all some people need. Boring. Rather, if you want to do a comparison, compare Ability or OpenOffice with the product Microsoft have in that price bracket and segment - Microsoft Works Suite 2006! Even at £89, it is better value for money than OpenOffice.
So what is the future for Works? Recent announcements by Google have given rise to much speculation as to how Microsoft will respond. Our strategy has not changed in that we want to combine a rich client application with a rich online services strategy. OfficeLive, provides the services strategy and we continue to integrate Microsoft Office with it in a very tight way in 2007. That said, we are not stupid and of course we are considering all kinds of options. One thing is certain, we are extremely tenacious in the productivity software space and we do not intend to lose marketshare.