by ALAN ZISMAN (c) 1993
1 November, 1993
for Computer Player
Last Winter saw the battle of the Windows database programs, with
Borland's Paradox and Microsoft's Access and FoxPro coming out within
weeks of one another, all aiming for the same buyer's dollars.
This season, we've got the same process, with the other two of
software's traditional 'Big 3' categories. The Spreadsheet Wars have
given us new versions of Lotus 123, Borland's Quattro Pro, and finally
Microsoft Excel. And now, again within a couple of weeks, we've got the
releases of version 6 for two of the three major Windows word
WORD PERFECT 6
With nearly 14 million copies sold, Word Perfect has pretty much owned
the word processor market... at least under DOS. Surprised by the
popularity of the Windows environment, however, they were late
software for this market.
While Word Perfect 5.1 for Windows sold well, it was widely criticized
as being slow ungainly... taking poor advantage of the Windows
environment. Version 5.2, released late last year was better, but still
lagged behind Microsoft Word for Windows and Lotus AmiPro.
Version 6, recently released in separate versions for DOS and Windows,
is another story. It adds features, speed, and usability, and finally
feels like a 'real' Windows product.
Like other 'real' Windows products, however, it makes serious demands
on your hardware. In this case, a full install takes 30 mb of hard
space, for example... with 10.5 the least you can get away with. Four
meg RAM is the bare minimum, with 6 or more being desired.
For that investment in hardware, you get a word processor that does
more than most. Like the users of old who booted up to the DOS version
of Word Perfect and never ran any other programs, this version comes
closer to being all things for all users.
If you really wanted to, for example, you could make it your Windows
shell, replacing Program Manager. You can easily install any Windows
program (or Word Perfect macro) onto its button bar for easy startup.
Just drag a file from File Manager, and drop it onto the button bar,
instant one-click program launching.
But why bother with File Manager, for that matter? While earlier
versions of Word Perfect-Win had a separate file manager all its own,
now, these functions are integrated into the File-Open dialogue box.
can create directories, copy and delete files right there. You can even
give directories and groups of files long descriptions.
Many word processors now come with table editors. This one, however,
includes over 100 spreadsheet functions... for many users, it may be
the spreadsheet they'll ever need. Similarly, the Word Perfect Draw
utility, provides charting, and Bezier curve editing. It can even
text to curves.
TextArt, co-developed by Bitstream, resembles a scaled-down
version of that company's MakeUp. It lets you stretch and twist text
into instant logos, and supports all your TrueType, Type 1, and Speedo
fonts. Bitstream has also provided 25 TrueType fonts.
While users have been able to integrate text and graphics in Word
Perfect since DOS version 5.1, the current version provides more
DTP-like power than ever before. Kerning, four-different sorts of
columns, even text wrap around a graphic's shape.
Three-level sorts adds basic data manipulation capabilities, made more
powerful by the wide range of database files directly imported.
Add Grammatik 5 grammar checker (recently purchased by Word Perfect),
and QuickFinder indexer and text retrieval utility, and you can see how
Word Perfect can lay claim to be "the most comprehensive set of tools
easily and automatically create any kind of document".
BUT DOES IT PROCESS
Yes. Word Perfect has always had a reputation of providing all the
features anyone could want in a word processor. This version builds on
that tradition, while still finding some areas for growth.
The biggest new word processor improvement is with templates. 70
pre-created documents ship with Word Perfect, including common forms,
fax sheets, memos, newsletters, and so forth. These ExpressDocs are
than just boilerplate text, however. They can be interactive, prompting
the user for information. They may include customized Button Bars,
menus, and macros. There are even templates to change the look of the
program to resemble DOS versions 5.1 or 6.0.
Having been hampered by DOS Word Perfect's inability to edit text in
Page Preview mode, I was pleased that this version is fully editable in
views ranging from facing-pages, to 400% magnification.
Of course, Word Perfect's traditionally strong spell checkers and
thesaurus are included, and strengthened with a hyphenation dictionary.
Users migrating from other versions of Word Perfect will find that this
version has complete file and macro compatibility with DOS version
6.0... Version 5.1 (DOS and Windows) files can be used, but must be
converted (which happens automatically). Older macros must also be
converted, which may be a less than perfect process.
THE USABILITY BUZZWORD
I never cared for the classic DOS Word Perfect interface. Austere.
Blank. Function key hints taped to the keyboard. Lots of power unused
because too many users didn't know how to access it.
Thankfully, Word Perfect has put those days far behind. This version
happily steals interface ideas from their competitors, and has emerged
the most customizable of the bunch.
Right mouse clicks produce context-sensitive QuickMenus. 20 different
Feature Bars, varying with the task at hand. Button Bars, (which can be
on top, on the side, or a moveable palette), permitting access to any
Word Perfect feature or any Windows application. A Power Bar, and
bar on the bottom, each user customizable. Even the keyboard can be
Like Microsoft's Wizards, Word Perfect provides Coaches. Unlike
Microsoft's, however, Coaches can be edited by users. In fact, using
macro-language, users can even create their own Coaches.
Taking AmiPro's interactive dialogues one step further, many of Word
Perfect's dialogue boxes provide a Preview button, permitting users to
view the effect of their proposed changes on their document, before
actually committing to the change.
Word Perfect has several nice policies, unusual in the software
industry. Registered users can obtain a free license for two additional
platforms... so DOS users can also use Windows and Unix versions, for
example. As well, upgraders are encouraged to donate their older
versions to schools and non-profits, something the Federal government
belatedly following up on. Finally, they continue with their 1-800
customer support, at a time when most other companies are moving to
Word Perfect's Windows versions have been guaranteed a large market by
the huge number of users of their DOS product. With this version, Word
Perfect becomes a Windows word processor that can be recommended on its
(Note from the year 2003): The above
article was originally published in 1993, as a review. A decade and
later, I've gotten a series of emails from WPWin fans hoping that I
could sell them a copy of this software or direct them to a place where
it is still available. While I have reviewed software since 1991, I am
not a vendor of r any products. I suggest to everyone looking for
of older software to check at eBay or at OldSoftware.com.If
on my Files webpages, you'll find links to a number of (mostly
freeware) downloadable software, some of which may be good replacements
for older programs.
-- AZ (September 15, 2003)