list of business
software holds few surprises, shows little innovation
by Alan Zisman (c) 1996 First published
in Business in Vancouver
, Issue #370 November 26, 1996 High Tech Office
Whether it's Letterman's Top 10 or BIV's current list
of top Vancouver companies, I always find them to be an attractive
way to get a lot of information fast.
In each of
bimonthly issues, PC Magazine includes a list of top 10
sellers, highlighting a different category in each issue. As I write
this, the current issue lists the 'Top Business Software.' What
makes it onto this top-10 list provides a few insights into how
are trying to use their computers. From the bottom up, we have:
10 and 9: Vertisoft's Remove-It 95 and MicroHelp's
Both products are designed to help users remove Windows applications
that are no longer wanted. Such applications often leave files all
over users' hard drives, with obscure settings in a variety of setup
files. Windows 95 attempts to standardize program setup and removal,
but this doesn't help users of older software.
8 and 7:
Two versions of Cybermedia's First Aid. Again these are
used in this case to check out a user's system, and make
to help it run at its best. As the name First Aid suggests, they're
designed to help with all those emergencies when your computer just
won't start (inevitably when you need it to work right now!)
Navigator. This popular Internet Web browser isn't free software.
We know that many millions of people are using Navigator, but
it's interesting to see that enough people are buying it to propel
it onto the best-seller list.
Plus! for Windows 95. Frankly, the popularity of this software
me. I suspect that many people have somehow become convinced that
it's a vital extension to the core Windows 95 product. A vital
it's not: while it provides sets of clever sounds, icons, screen
and desktop wallpaper, only a few of the features are actually useful
enhancements--the best, perhaps, being a System Agent, which
runs other utilities when the computer is idle.
4 and 3: A pair of antivirus programs--Symantec's Norton
AntiVirus and McAfee's VirusScan. As I've mentioned in recent
columns, there's been a big increase of viruses at business sites,
particularly as a result of new forms of viruses that infect
and spreadsheet documents. It's a good sign that business users are
taking this seriously enough to put these two programs near the top
of the list. The next step for users will be to actually use them
regularly, and to get in the habit of obtaining the latest virus
(both companies provide free upgrades to deal with new viruses).
WordPerfect Suite Upgrade. Having purchased this venerable word
from Novell (which in turn had purchased it from the original WordPerfect
company), Corel has been very aggressive
in updating and marketing it.
this new version
at a very attractive price, Canadian upstart Corel has driven market
leader Microsoft Office right off the top-10 list--but for how long?
Office is Microsoft's most lucrative cash cow.
Windows 95 Upgrade package. In some ways, this is surprising. Despite
the $100 million spent on the product launch last year, there have
been reports that the reception of Win95 has been lukewarm. Companies
like Symantec and Corel, both of which built their marketing plans
around software designed for Windows 95, reported disappointing sales.
Businesses, in particular, have been reported to be widely holding
off on upgrading to Windows 95. And estimated sales of 40-plus million
units this year had been assumed to be largely due to pre-installation
on new machines. Still, the 95 version is a real improvement over
'classic Windows,' and seems to be entrenched firmly in PC Mag's
computers are still perceived as fragile, difficult beasts, needing
help, and vulnerable to attack. Six of the top 10 products are
(seven if you count Microsoft Plus), providing help and protection
that should have been built into the machines.
much new in the way of business-oriented software. A package combining
a top-notch word processor and a spreadsheet (the Corel Suite) wouldn't
have been out of place on a Top-10 list a decade ago. Has there really
been so little innovation in business software? Only a single product,
Netscape Navigator, suggests any impact from the Internet, for
the Corel Suite includes Internet hooks, and one could argue that
the Internet is responsible for some of the increase in virus attacks.