Outlook 97, Sidekick 97
Microsoft Outlook 97Microsoft Office is inarguably the most popular productivity suite and has been for some time. As current users upgrade to Office 97 and new users jump on the bandwagon, the popularity of Microsoft Outlook, which is included with Office 97, will rise by default. But Outlook is a solid, full-featured tool in its own right.
Like its competitors, Outlook simplifies Internet access through drag-and-drop e-mail addressing and the ability to launch a browser and connect to a Web site. In addition, Outlook makes it easy to embed a URL in an e-mail message, so the recipient can simply click on the URL to go right to the referenced resource.
Outlook does a nice job of group scheduling, just as its predecessor, Schedule+, did. But Outlook extends group scheduling to the Internet by letting you send and receive meeting requests across the Internet via e-mail. Outlook also acts as a site manager of sorts, letting you collect Web pages in an Exchange public folder for a group to share. You can keep track of how often the pages are accessed, when they’re updated and who owns each page. Outlook interfaces seamlessly with the other applications in Office 97. The interface’s layout is neat, and drag-and-drop support throughout make it easy to organize and integrate your contact data and schedule. Unless you’re looking for the real-time Internet scheduling offered by a product such as OnTime, Outlook should fit the bill.
Sidekick 97Starfish Software has changed Sidekick from a small, helpful information manager into a well-rounded and nicely styled Web-wise PIM. As you’d expect, you can launch URLs and Internet e-mail through the program. Sidekick also supports scheduling across the Internet through e-mail messages. It automatically sends invitations and collects replies, then incorporates them into your schedule. Sidekick’s e-mail support includes Microsoft Exchange, Netscape Navigator and Eudora Pro. If a user doesn’t have an e-mail address, you can specify a fax number and have Sidekick automatically send a fax to the recipient using Microsoft Fax. Specifying a voice number causes Sidekick to place a reminder in your Calls list to invite the person by phone.
Another Internet-related feature is Sidekick Internet Time Synchronization. This lets Sidekick continually update your system time through an Internet time server. Clicking on the EarthTime icon opens a window showing a world map with night and day demarcations and eight cities you specify, with local times listed. The EarthTime database contains information for more than 540 cities, so customizing the world to suit your preferences is easy. EarthTime also enables you to determine the time difference between two cities.
With the new Sidekick Web Publisher add-on, you can publish slick, professional-looking calendars to the Web from your private calendars. To view a sample, point your browser to http://www.starfishsoftware.com/products/
Don’t let Sidekick’s low price fool you. It’s evolved considerably from its humble beginnings. The result is a solid, easy-to-use but powerful PIM with Internet-based scheduling and the ability to publish great-looking calendars to the Web.
Time & Chaos32 5.2.5Time & Chaos from iSBiSTER International began life as shareware about five years ago. Since then, the product has matured quite a bit. The latest version offers a limited level of Internet integration and incorporates workgroup scheduling along with typical standalone PIM features. Perhaps one of the best features is the clean way it integrates the calendar, phone book, appointment list and to-do list in a single window.
The Internet features include automatic e-mail addressing and the ability to launch your Web browser from URLs embedded in your contact data. The current version doesn’t support scheduling across the Internet, but it does provide LAN-based workgroup scheduling.