Microsoft quietly introduced some interesting home titles this week, including "Home Essentials 97" and "Plus! for Kids." Home Essentials 97 is a nice bundle of application programs that includes Word 97, Works 4.0, Encarta 97, IE 3.0, MSN, Greetings Workshop, Microsoft Arcade, and software for the Internet Gaming Zone.

Plus! for Kids is particularly attractive, especially for parents: it allows you to set parental controls on the system, easily set up desktop and Internet security, and includes 10 desktop themes, 3 cool applications, clip art, and fonts, all geared toward children. Themes include baseball, underwater, bugs, snowboarding, messy room, jungle, space, "Re-man", horses, and treehouse. Microsoft is offering the underwater theme as a free download now so you can get a feel for the package. The bundled applications include Talk It!, a program that says what they type, Play It!, an electronic keyboard with music and sound effects, and Paint It!, a neat graphics program. Plus! for Kids looks very cool and is targeted at children 12 and under.

Want more information?

Microsoft Home Essentials 97
http://www.microsoft.com/homeessentials/

Microsoft Plus! for Kids
http://www.microsoft.com/kids/plusinfo.ht