Canada's Corel continues to improve Word Perfect
Issue #605: May 29, 2001
The high-tech office
by ALAN ZISMAN
Ready or not, it's office suite upgrade
season again. May 1 brought
us the new version of Corel's Word Perfect Office, while the
of the month promises the latest Microsoft Office.
This week we're looking at Word Perfect; after
all, it got to the store
shelves first. Next week, it's Microsoft's turn and the week following
we'll look at some alternatives.
For most of the decade starting in 1985, Word
Perfect was the word processor
to beat. But as the business community moved from DOS to Windows, the
was slow to switch. Its first Windows versions were awkward as well. As
Microsoft built up market share for its own Word word processor and
suite, Word Perfect (the company) lost focus, resulting in the product
moving first to Novell and then to Corel.
Canadian-based Corel has worked hard to build up
the product as a worthy
alternative to Microsoft's Office, offering regular upgrades while
Microsoft) maintaining file format compatibility with older versions.
Word Perfect Office 2002 is no exception.
Upgraders ($249) or new adopters
($599) get spiffier graphics in the Quattro Pro spreadsheet, and new Macromedia
Flash animation capabilities in Corel Presentations. For users tired of
viruses infecting their Microsoft Outlook e-mail, there's a new (and
As in previous editions, a higher-priced
Professional version adds the
Paradox database and Dragon Natural Speaking for voice dictation ($369
upgrade, $769 otherwise; owners of Corel Draw 3, Microsoft Office 95,
Smartsuite 97 or later versions all qualify for upgrade pricing).
Compatibility remains a major consideration of
this suite. Users should
have no trouble opening older files and, perhaps more important, users
of older versions will be able to open files created by new users. Word
Perfect causes none of the chaos that Microsoft created when Word 97
were unreadable in earlier versions. Partly because of this stability,
Word Perfect remains a favourite in many law and government offices.
Word Perfect also beats Word in dealing with
long, multichapter documents,
maintaining page numbering across multiple files. Long-time users still
get to revel in the power of the Reveal Codes mode for precise
control. (The newest version of Word finally attempts something
At the same time, Word Perfect trumps Word with powerful graphic
allowing precise alignment features and the ability to rotate images.
converting a document to HTML for Web publishing, a "cascading style
is automatically created.
A nice feature, the Oxford Pocket Dictionary
is included and
provides definitions throughout the suite.
While the Quattro Pro spreadsheet retains its
ability to open Excel
and Lotus spreadsheets, it builds on the power of Corel Draw
program, offering more artistic charting than its competitors. And
Microsoft's Powerpoint has become almost a generic name for
presentations, Corel's Presentations does an equally fine job and goes
a step further exporting to Macromedia Flash format for easy posting to
The brand-new Corelcentral Mail packs a lot of
security and power behind
a bare-bones interface. Its calendar and address book are easy to use,
but lack the integration of Microsoft's Outlook. Then again, they also
lack Outlooks' vulnerability to hacker attack.
Microsoft's suite uses Visual Basic as its macro
language. It's a powerful,
real programming language that is too complex for most everyday users
powerful enough for hackers to take advantage of. Corel, instead,
Perfectscript macro language: easy enough for the rest of us to write
Word Perfect's 2002 incarnation won't break
on the office suite market. But it's reliable, compatible (both with
and older Corel versions) and, by offering a good collection of new and
improved features, keeps this venerable product a viable competitor.