Here are summaries of recent Computing product reviews. Each product is rated on a scale of one to four, with one computer indicating poor and four indicating excellent:
PFS:WindowsWorks, for PC or compatible running Windows 3.0 in standard or enhanced modes. $199. From Spinnaker Software Corp., 201 Broadway, Cambridge, Mass. 02139. (617) 494-1200 or (800) 826-0706.
On Target, for PC or compatible running Windows 3.0 in standard or enhanced modes. $399. From Symantec Corp., 10201 Torre Ave., Cupertino, Calif. 95014-2132. (408) 253-9600
On Target is a project-planning program that takes full advantage of the Windows environment to make creating, revising and reporting on a project's tasks, costs and resources easy and intuitive.
It doesn't have sophisticated reporting abilities and is too expensive, but its intelligence makes it the most exciting software for project management and planning in some time.
PFS:WindowsWorks is an integrated program that has a fine, though slow, word processor module with some desktop publishing features. The other modules are flawed, weak or inconsequential, however, and the notion of adding another set of desktop windows, icons and linking features to Windows is confusing.
Performance: 2 computers
Ease of use: 2 computers
` Value: 2 computers
(These are reviews of shareware programs for IBM and #i compatible computers. Shareware programs are available from computer bulletin boards and computer clubs. Users try them, then pay a fee to register them if they decide to use them regularly.)
PC-Glossary. Here's an on-screen guide that will help you make sense of such simple terms as "floppy drive" or such complex terms as "bus speed" in language suitable for both novices and experienced DOS users. PC-Glossary covers everything from AB Switch to Zone Recording. You can search for a term such as ASCII and get an on-screen definition and other terms for cross-referencing. You also get lists of computer organizations and access to a category known as Data Bus Facts.
You'll need to decide whether you prefer the convenience of an on-screen data base or a bunch of books on your computer table and whether you really need to know what a data bus is. If you do, you won't find an easier way to find answers. To register for the PC-Glossary program and data base send $29 to Disston Ridge Inc., 4915 22nd Ave. N., St. Petersburg, Fla. 33710. A one-year subscription to the data base that includes four updates costs $79.
Home Budget Management System. With Home Management System, you have another opportunity to spend a lot of time tracking every cent you make, then generating mountains of reports to further depress you. The bottom line is: Do you need it? The quick answer is no.
The beauty of shareware is that you can try these programs before you buy them. HBMS helps you set up accounts, apportion money among budget categories, then at the end of the month, go over every penny and figure out how you're going to keep from bouncing checks. There are advantages at tax time, since you can generate reports for tax categories, and this budget program is pretty slick. But you won't spend any more time going through your shoe box at the end of the year than you would entering all the data you need on this or any other piece of financial software.
The big difference between this program and a shoe box is the feeling that you're in control of your finances. Or at least you have a vivid portrait of where the money went. To register, send $35 to Brentson L. Worrell, 6404 Mornay Drive, Tampa, Fla. 33615.
(For copies of these try-before-you-buy shareware programs, send $4 each to Shareware, P.O. Box 7037, Long Beach, Calif. 90807. A shareware catalog on a disk costs $1. Please specify 5 1/4 - or 3 1/2 -inch disks.)