A major corporate and product revamp is under way at Corel Corp. following its recent acquisitions of SoftQuad Software Ltd. and Micrografx Inc., and a certain outcome is XML integration across the companys expanded product line.
“We are not integrating two companies into Corel; we are creating a brand-new company out of the best components of all three,” said Corel CEO and President Derek Burney in an interview with eWeek.
“What it boils down to is taking the image-to-Web technology from Micrografx and the XML [Extensible Markup Language] and market agility from SoftQuad, and Corel Ventura and other Corel applications and putting them all in a blender,” Burney added.
The exact form of the changes is not yet clear, either in the Ottawa companys products or in its corporate structure. Burney said the companys plans will be forthcoming in about 60 days.
SoftQuad brings the power of its XML-based content creation tool, XMetal. “We are in the content authoring business, and we want our customers to be able to create dynamic Web content,” Burney said. “While our WordPerfect product allows some interaction, it doesnt do it in a sophisticated way, and XML will facilitate that.”
Last December, Microsoft Corp. found SoftQuad XMetal 2.0. compelling enough to buy an enterprise license. Microsoft said at the time it planned to use the product internally.
Further, Micrografx products like Designer and Picture Publisher include image manipulation for print and the Web, allowing the automation of the resampling and resizing process, an area in which Corels products have not been that strong.
Corel is also hard at work incorporating Microsofts XML-based .Net technologies into its products.
In addition, Burney said Corels agreement with Microsoft, signed last year when Microsoft took a stake in the company and that allowed Microsoft to use Corel to port .Net to Linux, has been amended and now involves porting .Net Framework to the FreeBSD platform.
Matthew Rice, a Corel user and partner at Starnix Inc., which provides corporate Linux and Unix support in Toronto, welcomed the inclusion of XML into Corels product line.
“Im glad theyre doing this, particularly as it gets away from proprietary file formats and allows greater interoperability with other platforms,” Rice said.
Stacy Quandt, an analyst at Giga Information Group, in Palo Alto, Calif., said Burney had again “rescued [Corel] from the brink,” but stopped short of predicting success for the new strategy.
Burney said Corel may offer both XML and non-XML versions of WordPerfect. “We could keep products like WordPerfect as it is, with its current customer base and giving them what they want, and then create a secondary WordPerfect offering that is XML-specific.”
Also up for review are Micrografx Designer and Corel Draw, which have historically competed against each other.
“Designer is better known for its technical illustration capabilities than creativity, while Corel Draw is more known for creativity,” Burney said.
“So one strategy I believe we will adopt is to focus Designer only on technical illustration and Draw just on creativity, giving two products that meet specific needs and dont compete with one another at all,” he said, adding that this would give the company a wider product line.
Starnixs Rice said a greater, more focused product line should help Corel pick up users, “but whether this will result in meaningful increased market share is questionable as they still face formidable competitors like Microsoft,” he said.