Microsoft Works

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Microsoft Works
Initial release1988; 27 years ago (1988)
Discontinued9.0 / September 28, 2007; 7 years ago (2007-09-28)
Development statusDiscontinued
Operating systemMicrosoft Windows
TypeOffice suite
LicenseCommercial proprietary software
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Microsoft Works
Initial release1988; 27 years ago (1988)
Discontinued9.0 / September 28, 2007; 7 years ago (2007-09-28)
Development statusDiscontinued
Operating systemMicrosoft Windows
TypeOffice suite
LicenseCommercial proprietary software

Microsoft Works is a discontinued office suite developed by Microsoft. Works is smaller, was less expensive, and has fewer features than Microsoft Office or other major office suites. Its core functionality includes a word processor, a spreadsheet and a database management system. Later versions have a calendar application and a dictionary while older releases included a terminal emulator. Works was available as a standalone program, and as part of a namesake home productivity suite. Because of its low cost ($40 retail, as low as $2 OEM),[1] companies frequently pre-installed Works on their consumer-grade machines.


Microsoft Works originated as MouseWorks, an integrated spreadsheet, word processor and database program, designed for the Macintosh by ex-Apple employee Don Williams and Rupert Lissner.[2] Williams was planning to emulate the success of AppleWorks, a similar product for Apple II computers. However, Bill Gates and his Head of Acquisitions, Alan M. Boyd, convinced Williams to license the product to Microsoft instead.[3] Initially it was to be a scaled-down version of Office for the (then) small laptops such as the Radio Shack TRS-80 Model 100 which Microsoft was developing. As laptops grew in power, however, Microsoft Works, as it was to be called, evolved as a popular product in its own right.

On September 14, 1987, Microsoft unveiled Works for DOS.[4]

Through version 4.5a, Works used a monolithic program architecture whereby the Works Word Processor and Spreadsheet/Database documents ran in windows of the same program interface. This resulted in a small memory and disk footprint, which enabled it to run on slower computers with requirements as low as 6 MB of RAM and 12 MB free disk space.[5] Works 2000 (Version 5.0) switched to a modular architecture which opens each document as a separate instance and uses the print engine from Internet Explorer.

Version 9.0, the final version, was available in two editions: an advertisement-free version, available in retail and for OEMs, and an ad-supported free version (Works SE) which was available only to OEMs for preinstalling on new computers.[6]

In late 2009, Microsoft announced it was discontinuing Works and replacing it with Office 2010 Starter Edition.


Microsoft Works has built-in compatibility for the Microsoft Office document formats (DOC and XLS), including, but not limited to, the ability of the Works Word Processor to open Microsoft Word documents and the ability of the Works Spreadsheet to open Microsoft Excel workbooks. Newer versions include task panes but do not include significantly updated features. Even in the latest version (Version 9.0), the Windows 95-era icons and toolbars have not been updated to make them consistent with modern application software.

While its utility for larger organizations is limited by its use of proprietary native .WKS (spreadsheet), .WDB (database) and .WPS (word processor) file formats, the simplicity and ease of integrating database/spreadsheet data into word processor documents (e.g., mail merge) allow it to remain an option for some small and home-based business owners. Version 4.5a is particularly noted in this respect. The database management system, while a "flat file", i.e. non-relational, allows the novice user to perform complex transformations through formulas (which use standard algebraic syntax and can be self-referential) and user-defined reports which can be copied as text to the clipboard. A 'Works Portfolio' utility offers Microsoft Binder-like functionality.

By installing the 2007 Office System Compatibility Pack, the Works Word Processor and Spreadsheet can import and export Office Open XML document formats, although they are converted rather than being operated upon natively. The Works Calendar can store appointments, integrates with the Windows Address Book, as well as Address Book's successor, Windows Contacts, and can remind users of birthdays and anniversaries. It supports importing and exporting iCalendar (.ICS) files. It does not however support subscribing to iCalendar files or publishing them online via WebDAV. Up to version 8, using the Works Task Launcher, the calendar and contacts from Windows Address Book could be synchronized with portable devices. In Works 9.0, the sync capability has been removed.[7]

File format compatibility[edit]

Microsoft makes file format converter filters for Microsoft Word for opening and saving to Works Word Processor format.[8][9] Microsoft Office Excel can import newer Works Spreadsheets because the newer Works Spreadsheet also uses the Excel format but with a different extension (*.xlr).[10] There is an import filter for older Works 2.0 spreadsheet format (*.wks);[11] however it may be disabled in the registry by newer Microsoft Office Service packs.[12] As far as Works Spreadsheet 3.x/4.x/2000 (*.wks) and Works database (any version of *.wdb) files are concerned, Microsoft does not provide an import filter for Excel or Access. There are third party converters available for converting these filetypes to Excel spreadsheets: For database files (*.wdb) there is also a donateware utility;[13] for spreadsheet (*.wks) and database (*.wdb) files a commercial solution is available.[14]

A general C++ library, libwps,[15][16] can extract text from many different versions of Microsoft Works. variants such as Go-oo, LibreOffice, NeoOffice and OxygenOffice[17] have included libwps. libwps also provides a command line converter.

A commercially-available solution for converting to and from Microsoft Works files on the Macintosh platform is the MacLinkPlus product from DataViz. Free online conversion services are also available.[18]

Version history[edit]

Microsoft Works 2.0 for DOS

Works for MS-DOS[edit]

Works for Mac OS[edit]

Works for Microsoft Windows[edit]

Works Suite[edit]

In 1997, Microsoft introduced Microsoft Home Essentials, which packaged several of its home productivity titles into a single suite that was sold for a then low price described in a review by the Chicago Tribune as “one of the best bargains ever offered.” [19] Home Essentials continued to evolve and beginning with the 1999 edition took the namesake of Works becoming Works Suite. A slimmer version of the suite dubbed Works Deluxe was also offered for that year, but discontinued thereafter.

As the programs within Works Suite were developed separately and sold individually, each had a unique look and feel. They were integrated by a task plane, which picked the appropriate program for the user to accomplish each task. In addition to the core programs, each version of Works Suite also included programs such as FoneSync in 2001, and PowerPoint Viewer beginning in 2005. Later editions of Works Suite prompted users to upgrade to more featured versions of its inclusions at a discounted rate.

In addition to retail sales, Works Suite was included with the purchase of a new PC by several PC manufactures, notably Dell and Gateway. Works Suite was discontinued after the 2006 edition. Works was later bundled with Word as Works Plus 2008, but made available only to OEMs.

Comparison of bundled Works home productivity suites:

ProductSuggested Retail Price
Home Essentials 97[20]$109Works 4.0Word 97Encarta 97Greetings Workshop 1.0Microsoft Arcade
Home Essentials 98[21]$109Works 4.5Word 97Encarta 98Money 98Greetings Workshop 2.0Entertainment Pack: Puzzle Collection
Works Suite 99[22]$109Works 4.5Word 97Encarta 99Money 99 BasicGraphics Studio Greetings 99Expedia Streets 98
Works Deluxe 99$84.95Works 4.5Money 99 BasicGraphics Studio Greetings 99
Works Suite 2000[23]$109Works 5.0Word 2000Encarta Standard 2000Money 2000 StandardHome Publishing 2000Expedia Streets & Trips 2000Picture It! Express 2000
Works Suite 2001[24]$109Works 6.0Word 2000Encarta Standard 2001Money 2001 StandardStreets & Trips 2001Picture It! Publishing 2001
Works Suite 2002[25]$109Works 6.0Word 2002Encarta Standard 2002Money 2002 StandardStreets & Trips 2002Picture It! Photo 2002
Works Suite 2003[26]$109 before $15 rebateWorks 7.0Word 2002Encarta Standard 2003Money 2003 StandardStreets & Trips 2003Picture It! Photo 7.0
Works Suite 2004[27]$99.99 before $15 rebateWorks 7.0Word 2002Encarta Standard 2004Money 2004 StandardStreets & Trips 2004Picture It! Photo Premium 9
Works Suite 2005[28]$99.99 before $20 rebateWorks 8.0Word 2002Encarta Standard 2005Money 2005 StandardStreets & Trips 2005Picture It! Premium 10
Works Suite 2006[29]$99.99 before $20 rebateWorks 8.0Word 2002Encarta Standard 2006Money 2006 StandardStreets & Trips Essentials 2006Digital Image Standard 2006
Works Plus 2008available to OEM onlyWorks 9.0Word 2003

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Microsoft eyes ads as consumers close wallets
  2. ^ Microsoft Works for Macintosh Expected
  3. ^ Gates. By Stephen Manes, Paul Andrews, Page 328
  4. ^ Tina (29 April 2009). "The History of Microsoft - 1987". Channel 9. Microsoft. Retrieved 11 November 2012. 
  5. ^ System requirements for Works for Windows 95.
  6. ^ Fried, Ina (2008-04-18). "Microsoft quietly offering ad-funded Works | Beyond Binary - CNET News". Retrieved 2013-06-15. 
  7. ^ Works 9 does not support synchronizing the Works Calendar and the Address Book together with portable devices
  8. ^ Microsoft Works 6–9 File Converter
  9. ^ Microsoft Works 4 File Converter
  10. ^ Works: How to Recover Data from a Corrupted Works Spreadsheet
  11. ^ MS Works Spreadsheet (*.wks) and Database (*.wdb) files to Excel 97/2000/XP/2003 Conversion: RL Software
  12. ^ Office SP3 and File formats
  13. ^ Works Database Converter
  14. ^ Works Spreadsheet (*.wks) and Database (*.wdb) converter
  15. ^ Ziem, Andrew (19 August 2006). "Re: libwps for Microsoft Works .wps". Usenet; gmane.comp.lib.wpd.devel. Retrieved 2006-08-27. 
  16. ^ libwps: a Microsoft Works file word processor format import filter library
  17. ^ Bantle, Ulrich (13 December 2007). "Oxygen Office 2.3.1 korrigiert Sicherheitsfehler" (in German). Linux Magazine. Retrieved 4 December 2012. 
  18. ^
  19. ^ "Microsoft Home Essentials 97 Produced by... - Chicago Tribune". 1997-03-16. Retrieved 2013-06-15. 
  20. ^ "Microsoft Introduces Home Essentials 97". Retrieved 2013-06-15. 
  21. ^ "Microsoft Introduces Home Essentials 98". 1997-10-20. Retrieved 2013-06-15. 
  22. ^ "Microsoft Offers Six Essential Software Applications In One Box for Value-Conscious Home PC Owners". 1998-10-19. Retrieved 2013-06-15. 
  23. ^ "Microsoft Announces Works Suite 2000, The Complete Software Solution for the Home". 1999-09-20. Retrieved 2013-06-15. 
  24. ^ "Works Suite 2001 Provides Essential Tools for the Productive Family". 2000-09-06. Retrieved 2013-06-15. 
  25. ^ "New Microsoft Works Suite 2002 Provides Families With One-Box Shopping For All Home-Computing Needs". 2001-10-30. Retrieved 2013-06-15. 
  26. ^ "With Six Popular Software Titles in One, Microsoft Works Suite 2003 Makes Home Productivity Easy and Fun". 2002-09-05. Retrieved 2013-06-15. 
  27. ^ "Exceptional Value and Enhanced Productivity Come Together in Works Suite". 2003-09-09. Retrieved 2013-06-15. 
  28. ^ "Six Complete Microsoft Software Titles in One Make It Easier for Households to Get More Done". 2004-09-22. Retrieved 2013-06-15. 
  29. ^ "Microsoft Works Suite 2006: Living the “Suite” Life Is Easier Than Ever". 2005-10-26. Retrieved 2013-06-15. 

External links[edit]