FlexiWRITE, Word processor for IBM and compatible computers, Pounds 39 or Pounds 195 for site licence (single upgrade Pounds 24, secondary site upgrade is Pounds 120), Flexible Software, PO Box 100, Abingdon OX13 6PQ. Telephone: 01865 391148
I will confess to a complete bias about this program. FlexiWRITE in its earlier versions was one of the first word processing programs that I used and it took a great deal of persuasion to get me to abandon it. People criticised it, complaining that it wasn't WYSIWYG what you see (on the screen) is what you get (on paper). And you couldn't use a mouse with it. However, leave it I did when the various versions of Word came along and PCs became more powerful.
It is too easy to forget that many schools are still using 186, 286 and 386 machines which do not respond well to the heavy demands made by Windows. Dave Walton of Flexible Software has come up with a solution. He has made FlexiWRITE 2 work exactly like a Windows program: it uses the mouse, you can use pull down menus, you can cut and paste, it has a spell checker, it is WYSIWYG.
The great virtue of FlexiWRITE 2 is that it allows schools to put to good use all those ageing machines that tend to be ignored because the software on them is so different from Windows. Most IBM-compatible machines will be able to use it.
Even a machine that does not have a hard disk, just a floppy disk drive can use it. Install FlexiWRITE 2 and not only will pupils be able to word process, but they will be able to do it and to learn skills that they can transfer to the more powerful machines.
What will it do? It will work on most of the networks that are commonly found in schools. It will create files that can be transferred into other programs. It will do accents for French. It has mail merge, a very good spell-check. The spell-check will even list the words that you have told it to ignore (few Windows programs will do that). You can format your work in much the same that you do in Windows.
What won't it do? There is no thesaurus, you cannot bring in graphics. You do have a selection of fonts but not the range that you find in Windows. The screen is not quite as attractive as the usual Windows screen. You cannot work in columns.
I wouldn't dwell on the deficiencies. With this you will be able to bring into use a machine that was otherwise being relegated to the stock cupboard. Writing is still the most popular way of using a computer and a program that makes writing easier and presents it in a more attractive way is to be welcomed. A software producer who remembers that schools are not full of Pentiums is also to be welcomed.
A program that enables you to use an old machine to ease the transition to the newer, more powerful machines is one that recognises the reality of the situation in most schools.