As it has been 3 or 4 years since the previous version, the new release of Minitab 17 statistical package is surely cause for rejoicing, merriment, and an extra biscuit with a strong cup of tea.

At one of the centres where I work, the data analysts sit at the same lunch table, but are known by their packages, the Stata people, the SAS person, the R person, the SPSS person and so on. No Minitab person as yet, but maybe there should be. Not only for its easy to use graphics, mentioned in a previous post, but for its all round interface, programmability (Minitab syntax looks a little like that great Kemeny-Kurtz language from 1964 Dartmouth College, BASIC, but more powerful), and a few new features (Poisson regression for relative risks & counted data, although alas no negative binomial regression for trickier counted data), and even better graphics.

Bubble plots, Outlier tests, and the Box-Cox transformation (another great collaboration from 1964), Minitab was also one of the first packages to include Exploratory Data Analysis (e.g. box plots and smoothed regression), for when the data are about as well-behaved as the next door neighbours strung out on espresso coffee mixed with red cordial.

Not as much cachet for when the R and SAS programmers come a-swaggering in, but still worth recommending for those who may not be getting as much as they should be out of SPSS, particularly for graphics, yet find the other packages a little too high to climb.