Microsoft Office is a well-known productivity suite (collection of programs) sold in various configurations. Two such configurations are Office Standard and Office Professional editions. The Standard version is designed for the average at-home user, while Professional is meant for those in the business world who need the additions provided by the Professional edition.
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Microsoft Office Professional contains all of the software the Standard version contains. This includes Microsoft's popular word processor, Word. Also included in both versions is Microsoft Excel, a program for creating and managing spreadsheets. Microsoft PowerPoint, a program used for making digital presentations, slide shows and graphs is in both Professional and Standard. The last software these two versions have in common is Microsoft Outlook. Outlook is a time management, planning and e-mail program that integrates with your current e-mail provider to deliver new messages to Outlook.
Microsoft Access, which is available in the Professional edition but not Standard, is a database program used to track information across your company. Microsoft claims that, without prior database knowledge, an Access user can use pre-built database templates to view, track and manage issues, tasks, assets, contacts, events payroll information and more. Access allows you to create tables known as datasheets similar to Excel's spreadsheets that make the information stored within Access easier to use.
Improved Microsoft Outlook
While both versions offer Microsoft Outlook, the Professional suite offers an enhanced version called Outlook with Business Contact Manager. This version of Outlook offers everything the trimmed version has, with the inclusion of business-specific features such as customer management tools and tools to track new leads throughout sales cycles. If used in unison with Microsoft Publisher, Outlook can track your marketing campaigns and other project-related information created with Publisher.
Microsoft Publisher is used to make and share marketing materials and publications in-house, or without outside help. Publisher allows you to create and distribute print, Web and e-mail-based material. According to Microsoft.com, Publisher is used to build brands, manage customers and track marketing campaigns. Publisher integrates with Microsoft Outlook to allow you to use Outlook to track and monitor the distribution of any marketing materials you create using Publisher. As with Access, Publisher is available in the Professional edition, but not Standard.
Other Office Suites
Microsoft offers a number of other variations of their Office productivity suite. Other suites include Office Enterprise, Professional Plus, Small Business, Home & Student and Ultimate. While Standard offers the least amount of programs, Ultimate includes every Microsoft Office program currently used in any of their Office suites. As of June 2010, prices range from £259 for the Standard version of Office to £441 for Office Ultimate. Professional Plus and Enterprise are only available through volume licensing, meaning companies buy five or more copies of the software for use in an office setting on multiple computers.
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