The week after you completed the Windows 2000 rollout, Microsoft Corp. announced it would release Windows XP in October. I know - it's just not fair.
With more than 90 percent of all corporate desktops running Windows, it probably seems like you're forever locked into the Microsoft upgrade, er, "path." Don't get me wrong, I use Windows 2000 Pro and Office 2000 Premium for nearly everything. Office is a great jack of all trades - editing documents, spreadsheets, presentations and small-scale databases. But if your teleworkers need more in-depth capabilities, consider these applications.
-- Adobe Systems Inc. may be the recognized leader in the graphic arts, but QuarkXPress is the page-layout software chosen by most desktop-publishing professionals. Adobe's other products are faring better than its aging PageMaker - you'll rarely find a professional photographer or graphic artist that's not using Photoshop. But Adobe has been busy in new areas, too. It used to be that a professional video-editing system would cost you US$30,000. But Adobe Premier, now in Version 6.0, changed that. Countless professional studios have made the switch from Avid to Premier, which is often bundled with native digital video capture and processing cards, including my favorite - the DV500 Plus from Pinnacle Systems Inc.. Avid Technology Inc. is fighting back aggressively with its Express line of digital video editing systems.
-- Your teleworkers probably won't be doing their own books. If they do, however, consider their skill level before deciding on an accounting package. Intuit Inc.'s QuickBooks and QuickBooks Pro are easy to use, but they're more like glorified personal money management programs than true double-entry accounting programs. If you need a tried-and-true professional accounting package, go with PeachTree Complete.
-- If your teleworkers monitor various corporate networks, or work in a smaller office, then WildPackets Inc.'s EtherPeek is the best network monitoring software for the job. At $1,000, it's expensive, but it's also powerful and easy to use.
-- If your teleworkers need an outstanding multicomponent, client-server sales management package, look no further than Interact Commerce Corp.'s SalesLogix. It sports an ACT-like interface, but does a whole lot more.
-- Some of your teleworkers spend more time on the road than in their home offices. If they need directions before hitting the pavement, log on to MapBlast. Its new LineDrive directions are exceptional, and include easy-to-read graphics that handle the transition from Web to paper well. If you need to take it with you, try Rand McNally's Tripmaker. The maps are great, but it falls short delivering point-to-point directions. For that, turn to Microsoft Streets & Trips 2001.
-- The decision on antivirus software is clear: Symantec Corp.'s Norton AntiVirus. If you also need a personal firewall, try Norton Internet Security.
Symantec was one of the first software vendors to offer online software upgrades and patches, a task that became even easier when Symantec introduced a common interface for products. Another award-winning personal firewall that's worth a look is ZoneAlarm.