Business-like, isn't he?



Business in Vancouver logo

    WordPerfect's not perfect, but it keeps getting better

    by  Alan Zisman (c) 2006 First published in Business in Vancouver Business in Vancouver January 24-30, 2006; issue 848

    High Tech Office column; 

    In the late 1980s, a PC Magazine cover story found about a hundred competing word processors worthy of review. At that time, the market leader was WordPerfect's self-named product. Soon after, however, the company was late with a satisfactory Windows version, and the bulk of the market moved to Microsoft Word.

    WordPerfect passed first from the original developers to Novell, then to Ottawa-based Corel. Corel has continued to develop WordPerfect (now sold as part of a WordPerfect Office suite), which has maintained footholds in many legal and government offices. It also comes pre-installed on new computers from a number of manufacturers, including Dell.

    Corel has recognized that compatibility with MS Office is vital. As a result, it has put a lot of effort into ensuring that the suite components can accurately open and save files in the corresponding MS Office formats.

    Last year's WordPerfect Office version 12 went one step further: a Workspace Manager feature allows users to choose a WordPerfect or Microsoft Office look and feel for menus, toolbars and default file formats that can turn it into a faux MS Office for half the price. (Hard-core WordPerfect traditionalists can instead choose to mimic the old blue-screen DOS version.) Last year's WordPerfect Office products also allowed users to export files in Adobe Acrobat PDF format, which Microsoft Office users currently can't do without additional software. (Microsoft is promising PDF support in its next version.)

    On January 17, Corel released new versions of the WordPerfect Office suite family of products, version X3. Pricing is $379 for new users, $199 for upgraders from older versions of Word Perfect or Microsoft Office. There are discounts for organizations requiring multiple licences.

    While the former version could export files in PDF, X3 adds the ability to import PDF files, allowing editing of files saved in that format.

    With many organizations relying on PDF as a more-or-less universally viewable file format, this has the potential to be really useful. It's much easier to make changes to a PDF document in WordPerfect than in the widely used Adobe Acrobat. (That feature might make some organizations uneasy, however, because part of the allure of PDF-formatted files has been the difficulty in changing them.)

    Exporting to PDF has been enhanced; now tables of contents or slide names convert into handy PDF bookmarks.

    Also new: WordPerfect Mail, which combines e-mail, calendar and contact management with spam filtering and fast search and offers an alternative to Microsoft Office's Outlook. Presentations Graphics' X3 allows users to create and save graphics in a range of file formats. The OfficeReady template browser displays thumbnails of templates making it easier to choose the right pre-designed project.

    A new Save Without Metadata menu command provides a quick and easy way to remove potentially embarrassing sensitive information before distributing a document.

    WordPerfect Office X3 comes in a variety of editions:

      the standard edition includes the core WordPerfect word processor, Quattro Pro spreadsheet, Presentations slideshow software, Mail and Presentations Graphics;

      a professional edition adds the Paradox database and Visual Basic for Application programming support;

      a home edition drops Presentations and the full version of Mail in favour of Corel PhotoAlbum 6, Pinnacle Studio SE video editor, personal finance, home and school-focused templates, a 90-day version of Norton Internet Security 2006 and a Mail trial version;

      a low-cost student/teacher edition bundles the core word processor, spreadsheet and presentation programs.

    As with most Corel products, there's a wealth of add-ins. All versions include thousands of clipart images, royalty-free photos and 900 fonts.

    As with recent Microsoft Office releases, X3 requires Windows 2000 or XP.

    Combining low cost with good Microsoft Office file format and interface compatibility with a useful set of templates and now adding the ability to edit PDF documents, Corel WordPerfect Office X3 is worth consideration by small business and home office users.

Search WWW Search

Alan Zisman is a Vancouver educator, writer, and computer specialist. He can be reached at E-mail Alan