The office desktop productivity suite wars are heating up, with Corel Corp. on Wednesday unveiling the first beta of WordPerfect Office 11, which is expected to be available in North America late next month.
For its part, Microsoft Corp. next week is expected to release the second beta for Office 2003, formerly code-named Office 11, which is due for final release by mid-year.
Both Microsoft and Corel products include XML integration. WordPerfect Office 11 will give users the ability to publish slideshows, spreadsheets and WordPerfect files to XML; enhance existing file-sharing options; and support the deployment of content to multiple devices, said Graham Brown, executive vice president of software development for Corel.
New file-sharing capabilities include publish-to-PDF features in WordPerfect and Presentations, suite-wide publish-to-HTML capabilities, support for the Open Document Management API, and a new conversion utility to batch convert files from formats including Microsoft Word and RTF.
WordPerfect 11 also maintains the same file format from versions as far back as 6.1-11, providing seamless access to legacy data, while new e-mail document routing capabilities and Microsoft Outlook address book connectivity will let users collaborate via Microsoft Outlook.
“Our new ZIM SMS Office integration with Quattro Pro now allows users to update spreadsheets remotely via cell phone,” Brown said.
Microsoft Corp.s Office 2003 will come with XML support baked into Word, allowing users to, among other things, more effectively mine their data. Built-in support for XML will allow developers to create “smart” documents that automatically search for code or updates as needed.
In addition, the software will allow developers to use Word as a development platform to create XML templates and solutions, as well as to re-purpose content with database and Web service interaction, Jeff Raikes, Microsofts group vice president of productivity and business services, told eWEEK in September.
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And, last week, Joe Eschbach, corporate vice president of Microsofts Information Worker Product Management Group, in Redmond, Wash., said that Microsoft wants to ensure that the suites file formats give users full access to its XML schemas, which allow “smart documents” to be created in Office 2003.
“The goal is not to have another proprietary lock-in schema. The No. 1 push in Office 2003 is user-defined schema,” Eschbach said, adding that Beta 2 of Office 2003 will include a new feature called Outlook 2003 with Business Contact Manager, as well as the first incarnations of DRM (digital rights management) in the suite.
Corel, meanwhile, said on Wednesday that WordPerfect Office 11 Standard Edition will include the latest versions of the core applications—WordPerfect 11, Quattro Pro 11 and Presentations 11, while WordPerfect Office 11 Professional will include the relational database Paradox.
WordPerfect Office 11 Standard edition has a suggested retail price of $299.99, while the Professional edition will be available as a license-only offering “to meet the demands of enterprise customers,” Brown said.
Existing users of WordPerfect Office will be able to upgrade to WordPerfect Office 11 Standard for $149.99, while a special edition for the education market will be available for $99.99.
Microsoft has so far declined to say what applications will be included in which product SKUs and which will sell separately as an add-on, claiming no pricing or packaging decisions have been finalized as yet. All it has said is that the OneNote and InfoPath applications are part of the Office “family.”
Microsoft angered a group of legacy customers in November when it said that Office 2003 would be compatible with only Windows 2000 Service Pack 3 or later operating systems, including Windows XP. The move will affect as much as 60 percent of Microsofts installed base of pre-SP3 users.
Customers said this latest attempt by Microsoft to force them into upgrading follows the companys past moves to phase out support for older products and to push users to upgrade to its new licensing agreements.
Corels Brown said that WordPerfect Office 11 offers users value, flexible licensing solutions and professional level support. It is a “highly capable product to long-time WordPerfect Office users and to a growing number of users seeking an alternative to Microsofts cost and strict terms of licensing.”
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