Filling in the WordPerfect Office Holes

There are a few things Corel could do to increase WordPerfect's appeal as an alternative to Microsoft Office.

In a previous column, I wrote about life in a Microsoft Office-free world. Readers responded that the Office alternatives, WordPerfect Office and StarOffice/OpenOffice, lack important features they need to get their work done each day.

This is a plan for providing those features, at least for WordPerfect customers. Many of these ideas were inspired or downright stolen from an e-mail I received from my friend Tom King, the former computer radio host who now dabbles in strategic marketing.

Here goes.

Novell needs to acquire Plaxo to make it compatible with its own Evolution contact manager for Linux and Best Softwares Act for Windows. Plaxo has yet to find solid revenue, but it makes sense as an acquisition candidate for a company such as Novell, who could leverage the platform.

Corel needs to acquire a Plaxo-supported Act from Best Software to have an answer to Outlook on the Windows platform. Corel could buy Calendar Creator Plus from Broderbund, rename it "Corel Calendar," add tie-ins to Act (as already exists with CC+ to Outlook) and include it with Corel WP Office. CC+ allows users to print much nicer calendars than what Outlook provides and is one of the programs I always install on my personal work machine.

/zimages/2/28571.gifClick here to read eWEEK Labs review of WordPerfect Office 12.

You may remember that Novell was once the owner of WordPerfect, having acquired it from its founders. Caught up in Novells dramas, WordPerfect foundered and was sold at a bargain basement price to Corel, which was having its own problems. Things have settled down at both companies and closer cooperation makes sense. In fact, even if the buyouts Im proposing arent possible, working together should be and these companies—Novell, Corel, Best, Broderbund and Plaxo—could do interesting things together.

Corel WordPerfect Office needs to include Corel iGrafx Flowcharter, renaming it "Corel Charter" and including Corel Print House. This would provide much of the value of Microsofts Visio and Publisher, at least for some users, as part of the Corel Suite.

While were renaming things, Corel needs to rename the Office suite and the components. I am still partial to the WordPerfect brand, but the suite also includes the Quattro Pro and Paradox brands for its spreadsheet and database. Corel should find a naming convention that brings them under the WP umbrella. I am not sure the Corel brand is really useful but ego keeps the Ottawa-based company from rechristening itself WordPerfect Corp., at least in the Office business.

Simplifying licensing would be a smart move for Corel in fighting Microsoft. Tom suggests the inclusion of a "Corel Licensing Manager" to provide site licensing directly in the box with the retail product. This would make Corels volume licenses easier to purchase than Microsofts.

For the sake of completeness, Corel should also bundle a full version of the Opera browser with its Office package, including preloaded links to Corel sites and resources.

Theres a plan that would significantly increase the appeal of WordPerfect as a Microsoft Office alternative. It almost goes without saying that as much of this as possible should be ported over to Linux, where Novell could be a co-distributor with Corel. Such a product could dramatically improve acceptance of desktop Linux as a Microsoft Windows competitor.

This entire plan is at least vaguely possible, though I have no reason to believe the various companies are even talking to one another. But if theyd like to set up a conference call, Id be happy to arrange it.

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