MICROSOFT Office Professional & Bookshelf is the latest version of Microsoft's Office family of software, and comes on two CD-ROM discs. For the small to medium business it is difficult to imagine wanting much more than this total package. The software includes full versions of Microsoft Word version 6 for Windows, Excel version 5, PowerPoint and Microsoft Access. It also has Microsoft Mail, which will require Microsoft Mail for PC Networks (Windows) or Microsoft Mail Server for AppleTalk Networks (for Macintoshes). Microsoft Bookshelf has The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Concise Columbia Encyclopedia, Roget's Thesaurus of English Words and Phrases, The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations, The People's Chronology by James Trager, The World Almanac and Book of Facts, and Hammond maps. So much software usually comes on about 30 floppy disks, and is a terrible bore to install.The process can take an hour and if one disk is bad the whole process usually falls to pieces. With the CD-ROM version, installation is a breeze: pop the CD-ROM into the drive, run the setup program, choose an option or two and then go away and let the machine do the work. This not only takes the tedium out of the installation process, it also eliminates the problems of bad floppies. The first thing to notice about Microsoft Office is that it installs a row of eight icon buttons at the top of the screen. The first five buttons represent the five applications - Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, Mail - and will run them simply by clicking once on the button. The buttons remain visible, so it is possible to switch between one program and another easily. The last three buttons are Find File, On-line Documentation, and Microsoft Office. The last button is, strictly speaking, not really needed but seems to be there for those who prefer to run their applications from a drop-down menu. On-line Documentation is exactly what it says: all the manuals for all the software are on the CD-ROM. Even for those who do not like to read manuals on-line, the digital documentation makes it much easier to find things - all you need do is search for it. This version of Microsoft Office marks the first time that both the Windows version and the Macintosh version are at the same level of development. In programming, this means much of the core code is the same for both platforms. For the first time Word for Windows and Word for the Mac are virtually identical. The same is true for Excel and PowerPoint. Access is a Windows-only program and is an exception. Word version 6 is the latest upgrade in the word processing battle. It takes up 3.5 megabytes on the hard disk. For those who want simplicity, it is still possible to get much simpler programs that do less but do it quickly, even on an old machine. Like all of the products in Office 4.3, in Word 6 there are buttons for almost everything and if there is no button for what you want to do, you can probably create it and add yourself. The list of buttons and menus for all Microsoft products in Office is similar, and you may have to look twice to see where you are. This is the result of Microsoft's policy of integrating the entire Office environment. The new version of Word looks different. All the buttons and icons have a rounded look with shadows that give the product a pleasant, professional look. One new feature that is certain to please many people is AutoCorrect, a database of keyboard entries that will automatically be 'corrected' when they are typed in. If you type 'teh' AutoCorrect will change it to 'the' the moment you hit the space key. The database can be edited so you can enter things like 'HK' and get 'Hong Kong'. My only point is that it would be convenient if there was a way to turn AutoCorrect off for one word, say. Instead, I had to go up to the menu, turn it off, type in the word I wanted, return to the Tools menu and turn AutoCorrect back on. Even so, it is handy. The integration of Word and Excel has now been taken to a new level, thanks to Object Linking and Embedding version 2 (OLE 2). It is now possible to move a spreadsheet using copy/paste special from Excel 5 to Word 6 with a couple of mouse clicks. When you double-click on the spreadsheet data inside Word, you will suddenly see that you moved to Excel, even though the document page did not flicker. The moment you click outside the Excel object, you are back in Word again. The use of IntelliSense and Wizards makes life easier if you are slightly put off by the enormous number of possibilities these applications have. Microsoft Bookshelf was once about the only CD-ROM available for PCs. Although there is much more on the market now, Bookshelf is still popular. It now comes with all the books mentioned above, and contains QuickTime movies and animations for many of the entries. The dictionary will pronounce words for you in an all-purpose, North American accent, if you want it to. The information is by its very nature cursory and very American. The entire Office package is probably the most seamlessly integrated package of its kind available and useful for the business professional who truly needs all of its capabilities. The addition of the Bookshelf is useful in its limited way. The only thing needed to make this a truly outstanding package would be the inclusion of one of Oxford's dictionaries for an international version.