Corel revitalizes WordPerfect Suite
by Alan Zisman
(c) 1997. First
published in Computer Player, Jule 1997
Corel Corp.; (800) 772-6735, (613) 728-3733; fax:
Word Perfect Suite 8.0-- $545; upgrade-- $245;
$50 (no tech support)
Fall is the traditional season for the new TV shows
and the new car
models, but now, it seems, Office suite software gets updated
the year. Last summer, we got version 7 of the Word Perfect products,
after being acquired by Ottawa's Corel Corporation. Winter brought
Office 97, while spring brought Lotus SmartSuite 97. Now, just in time
for summer again, it's back to Corel for version 8 of their suite
Word Perfect pretty much owned the market for DOS word
the late 1980s and early 1990s. Perhaps because of that, they were slow
to respond when users switched to the Windows environment, and their
Windows versions were slow to market and awkward to use. To counter
early success with their Office Suite, Word Perfect combined forces
Borland, to include that company's Quattro Pro spreadsheet and Paradox
database in a bundle marketed as Perfect Office.
But while Microsoft Office's components, all from a
common source, shared
a common feel, all too often, Perfect Office felt like the Brady
sets of offspring sharing a single household. The result-Microsoft
won 80% of the suite market, and Word Perfect and Borland bled money.
limps on, but Word Perfect was sold, first to networking giant Novell,
and more recently, to Corel, which acquired all the components of the
Office suite, bringing new energy and focus along with an infusion of
The new version brings tighter integration between the
products-they now look and feel like members of the same family...
menus, tool bars and more are shared across the suite. Menu items have
been moved to reflect common Windows practices.
Along with the Word Perfect word processor, Quattro
and Presentations slideshow program, a new component, Corel Central is
promised... to integrate e-mail, Internet telephone, an address book
more, accessible from the other core modules. I couldn't, however, test
Corel Central at this time... it wasn't ready, but Corel is shipping
suite with a coupon good to obtain the product when it ships...
later this summer.
Like Microsoft's product line, this suite comes in two
basic, so-called Word Perfect Suite, and the more expensive Corel
Professional, also due later this summer, which will add the database
along with Corel Timeline, a project management program.
As well, as with other Corel products, there's a bunch more... tons
of clipart and fonts, for example, and even drawing and image-editing
spun off from Corel's Corel Draw product line, and a copy of Netscape
set aside 110 megs of drive space for a typical installation.
Each product allows users to save as HTML, for posting
as a Web or Intranet
page, while Preview shows how it would look in a browser. Installing
optional Barrista component makes it easy to save documents as part of
Java applications, even for users who can't write Java programming
This also makes it possible to create Web pages that bypass HTML
The Corel products also support SGML, a standardized page layout
more powerful than HTML.
(For users who've heard rumours that Corel is
developing a suite in
Java that will run on any flavour of computer-this isn't it. While
has posted a very early version of such a product on the Net, this is a
standard, Win 32-only product, for Windows 95 and NT users only. A new
Mac version should be out later this summer, while Win 3.1 and DOS
are supported with older versions).
Like Microsoft, Corel has updated the help engine.
While not as cute
as Microsoft's animated paper clip, Corel's Perfect Expert does a
job of explaining the suite's wealth of features. Unlike Microsoft,
Corel has managed to keep file formats compatible with previous
a real advantage in any workplace where files are exchanged among users
of different versions... users of this or the previous version can
files freely with co-workers running the older Windows 3.1 or even DOS
Quattro Pro sports improved editing in preview mode, a
an auditing feature to trace errors, and the ability to import Intuit
Presentations offers a new Show on the Go
feature-allowing users to
pack up a slideshow onto a floppy, for distribution even to users who
the suite software... a nice way to distribute a product demonstration,
The Word Processor continues to include 'classic' Word
like Reveal Codes, along with new flexibility. In some ways, feeling
like a page layout program, you can now add text or graphics anywhere
the page-no need to press Enter umpteen times to get down to the bottom
of the page, for example.
In summary-a solid, clean product, with reasonable
performance for its
size. Packed with features and extras, Word Perfect Suite is a
that deserves a look. Kudos to Corel for revitalizing this product.