IT has been a great year so far for PC users in Hongkong. With the major software vendors now locked in a bloody struggle for marketshare all over the world, prices have never been better. Lotus Development joined the fray last week with its long-awaited dynamic spreadsheet known as Improv being launched at a fraction of its list price. Until the end of May, Improv for Windows will sell for US$99. The product lists for US$495. For Lotus, Improv is a make-or-break product. Having watched its dominant position in the spreadsheet market (with Lotus 1-2-3) slide radically in recent years, the company is pulling out all stops to claim back its lost ground. Improv has been awaited with great interest, having received rave reviews in its first version, which ran on the ambitious NeXT workstation platform. ''It is the dynamic spreadsheet technology that makes this product interesting,'' said Lotus Hongkong general manager Mr Alfred Tsoi. ''You can do things here that you just can't do in a traditional spreadsheet environment.'' The Improv architecture combines the traditional spreadsheet ''metaphors'' - such as rows and columns - with new features likedynamic spreadsheet views, and plain English formula. Lotus maintains that the ''dynamic views'' feature of the product lets users quickly re-arrange data according to different criterion, which reveals otherwise hidden data relationships. ''If you look at the kind of functionality built into the product, you'll see we are targeting sales and marketing managers, market researchers, product blend managers - anyone that has heavy data-tabulation requirements,'' Mr Tsoi said. Data can be expanded to show more detail, or hidden and grouped for clarity. Changes that are made in one view of the data are automatically reflected in all related views. Improv also allows users to name data ''cells'' and formulas, using English words instead of letters and numbers. The company claims that the English formulas and cell names immediately make the structure and logic of the spreadsheet more easily understood, and makes it simpler to spot data errors. ''Existing spreadsheet technology is based on a fixed model and users would have to create new models if they wanted to see different views of the same data,'' Mr Tsoi said. ''With Lotus Improv, this can be done easily, without any laborious data entry.''