Hot software

Kristen McQuillin rounds up the season's best new releases.

Office XP (Microsoft) Win. Available: T Zone. JY54,600.
The latest suite from Microsoft includes the 2002 versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook. It incorporates additional formatting and templates, revision control, team editing and enhanced document recovery. Office XP's best feature: no more Clippy the Paperclip Assistant! Don't be fooled by the name, this software works on all current Windows systems, not just Windows XP.

Acrobat 5.0 (Adobe Systems) Win/Mac. Available: T Zone. JY32,000.
"The best way to share documents online" has gotten better with the latest release of Acrobat, which includes improved tools for review cycles and comments from reviewers. Also, getting text out of a PDF file is as easy as clicking "Save As." Convert any document into a PDF file to share on the Web-retaining all of your formatting, images and fonts. Acrobat Reader remains free for download at 

PS Elements (Adobe Systems) Win/Mac. Available: T Zone. JY12,700.
Frustrated by limitations in your image editing software, but not quite ready to master the complexities of Photoshop? PS Elements combines ease-of-use with powerful Photoshop tools to create the perfect editing software for digital photography enthusiasts.

Atmosphere (Adobe Systems) Win/Mac. Available: late summer.
The latest in 3D virtual worlds, Atmosphere links the 2D web with 3D virtual realities. You can choose an avatar and walk around, interacting with other avatars. It's not quite up to the level of special effects in films, but the technology is advancing. Currently available for beta testing from Adobe.

Family Tree Maker 8.0 (Broderbund Software) Win. Available: mail-order. $59.99-$109.99.
For Americans interested in tracing their lineage, Broderbund publishes software for researching and creating a genealogy. The deluxe version comes with 24 or 35 CDs of historical records; for even more data, choose the collector's edition with 42 CDs.

Mastercook Complete Suite 6.0 (Sierra Home) Win. Available: mail-order. $39.95.
Looking for a way to spice up your dinner menus? Mastercook's 6500 recipes will do the trick. Quickly scale recipes, plan meals and check nutritional information for every recipe. Plus, you can download an additional 11,000 recipes when you tire of the first batch.


Black & White (Electronic Arts) Win. Available: T Zone. JY8980.
Be a god. Choose benevolence (white) or malevolence (black), and see where you get in this role-playing game. Whether good or evil, gods can perform miracles, raise creatures and gather worshippers to increase their power. The game is packed with interesting features, including AI creatures and tactile feedback. For a real challenge, go online and play against other gods to see who is most powerful.

Tropico (Pop Top Software) Win/Mac. Available: mail-order. $39.99-$44.99.
Ever dream of becoming a Banana Republic dictator? In Tropico, your mission is to successfully run a Caribbean island while keeping the population happy (or at least under control) and skimming the treasury for personal gain. This is a game guaranteed to satisfy your power trip and keep you up late learning how to rule your tropical paradise.

Train Simulator (Microsoft) Win. Available: mail-order. $54.99.
If you've been looking wistfully at the Japanese train games, this is your ticket. It features trains from around the world, including the Odakyu line Romance Car to Hakone.

Operating Systems
Windows XP (Microsoft) Available: October 2001.
Microsoft isn't planning to ship XP until October 25, but already you'll find Bill Gates' face on posters around town. The Windows XP "eXPerience" is simpler with better integrated communications, networking and MP3 support. If you want to run XP on your computer, be sure you have at least 128Mb of RAM and you're already running Windows 2000 Professional or Windows ME.

MacOS X (Apple Computer) Available: JY14,800.
Released in March 2001, this new Unix-based OS recently won CNET's OS Death Match against Windows 2000. Totally different from previous Mac OS releases, a new graphical interface (Aqua) sits atop an extremely powerful BSD Unix base. OS X has superb Japanese font support and includes new fonts with over 15,000 characters. Say so long to Osaka!

394: Wire tap
wireless networking
392: You've got mail
390: School's in session
From earning an MBA to making a webpage, online classes are a convenient ...
388: Diaries go hi-tech
Up-to-date diarists have chucked the avocado leatherette versions..
386: Why Upgrade?
Kristen McQuillin explains when to upgrade
384: Gadgets to go
Get the goods on the latest mobile devices
382: Hot software
The season's best new releases
380: Peripheral vision
How to purchase computer toys in Japan
378: In safe hands
How to avoid repetitive strain injury (RSI)
376: Kill spam
How to minimize your junk email
372: In for repair
Computer repair options in Tokyo
370: Game for a laugh
Semi-annual Tokyo Game Show
368: Knowledge is power
Empowering women in technology
366: Generation next
Cutting-edge keitai
364: MacWorld
Exploring MacWorld Tokyo 2001
362: Online translation
Simultaneous E-to-J and J-to-E translation... online
360: DIY Star Wars
Recreate your own sci-fi epic at home
358: Network gaming
Play games with friends on your keitai
357: Bad it online
Japan's burgeoning e-commerce market
355: Robotic revelations
Japanese robots leading the way
352/3: Get the point - a new kind of points system
350: Talk is cheap
Internet telephone technology
348: Tsukumo
346: Digital Stadium
Innovative computer-generated art on NHK
344: Tokyo Game Show
The latest releases at this fall's show
342: WonderBorg
The mechanical insect
340: Fun and games
There's a new game console in town...
337: Dream on
Tokyo Dream Technology Fair 2000