Personal computers of ever-increasing speed have motivated programmers of multivariate software to adapt their programs to be run in Microsoft Windows and Macintosh platforms. Updated versions of these multivariate programs appear more and more frequently and are marketed intensively. In this review we provide a comparative analysis of the most recent versions of three analytical software packages – Canoco for Windows 4.5, PC-ORD version 4 and SYN-TAX 2000. The three packages share two characteristics. First, the most recent versions are now compatible with the most recent Windows platforms and should therefore be accessible for use by virtually all vegetation scientists. Second, they have capabilities for numerous multivariate techniques, although each package has some unique techniques. Thus, any one of the packages will have much to offer the user.
Abbreviations: BC = Bray-Curtis ordination; CA (also, CoA) = Correspondence Analysis; CCA (also, CCoA) = Canonical Correspondence Analysis; CVA = Canonical Variate Analysis, also called Discriminant Analysis; DCA = Detrended Correspondence Analysis; DCCA = Detrended Canonical Correspondence Analysis; MRPP = Multi-response Permutation Procedure; NMDS (also NMS) = Non-metric Multidimensional Scaling; PCA = Principal Components Analysis; PCoA = Principal Coordinates Analysis; RDA = Redundancy Analysis; TWINSPAN = Two-way Indicator Species Analysis.