Can A Village Do Better Than Bob?

LOOK OUT, BOB, HERE COMES COMPUTER ASSOCIATES International Inc. Unlikely as it seems, the mainframe software giant may have just the program to demystify PCs for home users. Like Microsoft Corp.'s much publicized Bob program, CA's new Simply Village mimics real-world landscapes and uses helpful on-screen guides. But the animated characters in CA's program speak and, using voice recognition software from IBM, respond to spoken commands. Want to check your E-mail? Just say so and your mail appears.

Simply Village makes full use of multimedia: You can take a helicopter ride over the village--complete with sound effects and 3-D views--watch a video in the theater, and send graphical E-mail. The $49.95 program, for Windows PCs, will be in stores in May.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.