Smart Ideas Software – Minute Maker for Windows CE review

something to do in dull meetings
Photo of Smart Ideas Software – Minute Maker for Windows CE
£50 + VAT

Windows CE palmtop computers haven’t exactly taken the world by storm, and nor has there been a great deal of third party software released for Microsoft’s ‘pocket’ operating system. But one or two utilities are beginning to emerge, and this is one of the more recent. Minute Maker CE can be used on palmtop computers using either version 1.0 or 2.0 of Microsoft’s Windows CE operating system. It is an application designed, as its name suggests, to facilitate the recording of the minutes of meetings.

Using a 360LX Windows CE palmtop computer kindly loaned to us for the purposes of this review by Hewlett Packard, we tested Minute Maker CE’s functionality and ease of use. Installing via the generic Windows CE PC link – for which you’ll need a Pentium PC with at least 8MB of RAM, Windows 95/NT4.0 and about half a megabyte of temporary disk space – Minute Maker places itself in the Program Files folder of the palmtop and conveniently adds a shortcut to the desktop screen.

Double-clicking on this launches the program, from where you can either create a new minute structure or choose from one of four templates; document review, planning meeting, sales meeting and user group meeting. Each of these has its own associated tree structure, displayed in the left-hand pane in a similar way to the Windows 95 Explorer window. Items (or attributes, as they are known), can be added, deleted or moved as appropriate, until the user has a structure that represents the meeting plan. Attributes include venue, date, attendees, purpose of meeting, incentives, targets and so on… and more can be added at will.

Once that’s done, the user can enter free-text details during the meeting in the right-hand pane, cross off agenda items, and make notes or comments. The software can even be configured to step through agenda items, warning the user if particular items haven’t been covered. After the meeting, the minutes can be transferred to other Windows CE palmtops via infra red link, e-mailed to other people in ASCII text format, or transferred to a PC and printed out. This should alleviate much of the drudgery associated with minute-taking.

Company: Smart Ideas Software

Contact: 01242 244 700


Verdict
Child's play to use, Minute Maker is nevertheless a handy piece of software for busy executives whose lives are spent in meetings. Windows CE is still not an essential requirement for business users, due mainly to the bulky design and poor battery life of many of the palmtop computers launched so far, but it's small, functional utilities such as Minute Maker that may force that to change. Assuming they come down in price, of course...