Ability’s suite of office applications may not look as cutting-edge as Office 2007, but the interface of each component is crisp and clear.
We tested the Home version, which includes image-editing, drawing and organising software on top of the usual word processor, spreadsheet and presentation applications. Ability Office Business adds a database for an extra £4.
This is the only package here that provides a comprehensive image editor. Photopaint supports many advanced features, such as layers and a set of effects and filters, but there are a couple of omissions: you can’t use percentages when resizing an image, for example.
Ability Office is also unique in this group in that it doesn’t support the latest file formats of Microsoft Office 2007. There’s no OpenDocument support, either, but the main applications can export to PDF and XPS files.
Ability Spreadsheet is impressive, with all the features that even advanced users are likely to need, but it’s a shame there’s still no way to choose a currency other than the one specified in Windows’ regional settings. We were frustrated by this problem in our review of Ability Office 4 (Labs, Shopper 247).
Write is a competent word processor, but some advanced features are absent or frustratingly clunky to use. You can’t track changes, comments aren’t supported, and you can’t add a hyperlink to selected text. Instead, you have to enter the anchor text in the same dialog box, where you specify the URL. Tables of contents must be removed and recreated, rather than simply refreshed, and inserting a symbol relies on Windows’ Character Map, which lacks the shortlist present in Office 2007 applications.
This is a likeable and comprehensive suite for the money. Its partial support for Office files is a pain, though, and you may need to ask colleagues to save Word 2003-formatted files, or find a third-party converter.