Corels latest WordPerfect Office upgrade provides a basic, less expensive alternative for organizations that dont want Microsoft Office. Loyal WordPerfect customers will not be disappointed, and the suite could gain new fans with its enhanced XML capabilities. Prices start at $299 for the Standard version ($149 to upgrade). More information can be found at www.corel.com/wordperfect.
PRO: Runs on Windows operating systems as far back as Windows 98 Second Edition; can publish documents in XML; file converter can change groups of documents into different file formats.
CON: Dearth of applications compared with Microsoft Office; no Linux support.
EVALUATION SHORT LIST
Corel Corp.s WordPerfect Office 11.0 might not loosen Microsoft Corp.s grip on the office productivity market, but eWEEK Labs tests show the suites latest enhancements make it a well-appointed, less expensive alternative for most organizations looking for the basics. Word Perfect stalwarts will find Version 11.0 a worthy upgrade, especially organizations that need to tap XML for processing large amounts of data.
The WordPerfect Office 11.0 suite comprises the WordPerfect 11.0 word processor, the Quattro Pro 11.0 spreadsheet application and the Presentations 11.0 presentation maker. The WordPerfect Office 11.0 suite provides good cross-platform support, running on a wide variety of Windows versions, and enhanced XML capabilities.
IT managers looking for a basic alternative to a Microsoft Office 2003 Standard edition upgrade should consider WordPerfect Office. On the other hand, organizations needing an integrated e-mail client, desktop publishing applications and contact management should stick with Microsoft Office.
Penny-pinching enterprises can get more bang for their buck from free office suites such as Sun Microsystems Inc.s StarOffice, OpenOffice.orgs OpenOffice or CodeWeavers Inc.s CrossOver Office 2.0. Still, WordPerfect Office 11.0s list price of $299 (or $149 for an upgrade) should make it less expensive to acquire than Microsofts Office 2003 Standard edition (which had yet to be priced at press time).
Enterprises that require a relational database will need to purchase the WordPerfect Office 11.0 Professional edition, which is available through Corels business licensing program.
Compared with Microsofts Office 2003, WordPerfect Office 11.0 is less finicky when it comes to platform support. Office 2003 will require Windows XP or Windows 2000 Service Pack 3, whereas WordPerfect Office 11.0 runs on Windows operating systems as far back as Windows 98 Second Edition, as well as Windows NT 4.0 with Service Pack 6a, ME, 2000 and XP.
Linux fans are out of luck, but Corel executives said they havent ruled out the possibility of porting the suite to non-Windows platforms.
The most promising part of WordPerfect Office 11.0 is its increased XML capabilities. This might not make any difference to smaller organizations, but enterprises with large data collecting and filtering needs will appreciate these enhancements. Users can now publish WordPerfect, Quattro Pro or Presentations documents to XML format and deploy that information to a number of devices.
Developers can also use the suite to create forms that retrieve information and send it directly to back-end databases using XML. The XML integration will also open XML-formatted files.
The WordPerfect word processor has been praised for its Reveal Codes feature, and Corel has enhanced the capabilities in this latest version. For example, as we created a document, codes were automatically inserted indicating where our formatting options began and ended.
We could easily delete these codes as well as modify their properties. In addition, a new option enables users to print documents with Reveal Codes displayed.
In compatibility tests, WordPerfect Office 11.0 faithfully rendered the formatting and styles from Microsoft Word, PowerPoint and Excel documents and templates in use here at eWEEK. WordPerfect Office 11.0 is equipped with a handy file converter that easily converts one file or large numbers of files into other formats and back again. When saving, WordPerfect Office 11.0 allowed us to choose from a number of file formats in which to save a test document. We could easily open and save Word documents, for example, in the same file format after using WordPerfect to make changes.
WordPerfect has a large user base in the government sector and the legal profession, where many customers are used to using the keystroke shortcuts in some of the earliest versions of the software. In response to user feedback, Corel has added desktop customization features to Version 11.0 of the suite that enable users to create and modify tool bars, the property bar, the application bar, menus and keyboard shortcuts.
Being fans of the DOS-based WordPerfect 5.1 word processor, we replicated that work environment—everything from the blue screen down to the keystroke shortcuts.
WordPerfect 11.0 also addresses the file compatibility issues that can emerge from revision to revision of a product. Legacy files created in WordPerfect 6.1, for example, use the same file format as those in 11.0, thus allowing users of different versions of WordPerfect to share files with no problems.
Even more useful in our tests was WordPerfect Office 11.0s improved ability to publish documents from WordPerfect and from presentations in PDF format—a capability thats not yet available in Word. Using WordPerfect 11.0, we found it easy to convert word processing documents into PDF files for publication on a Web site. The suite now supports Adobe Systems Inc.s Acrobat 5.0 and handles symbols with ease, allowing graphic-intensive documents published to PDF to have much smaller file sizes.
Although most of the major changes show up in WordPerfect Office, Corel has also brought a raft of enhancements to the other suite components, Quattro Pro and Presentations. Features such as CrossTab Reports—which can summarize large amounts of data—have been bolstered with new sorting and filtering capabilities.
This isnt to say, however, that old favorites have gone away. Using RealTime preview, Quattro Pro users can preview formatting changes before applying data to a number of charts—a huge timesaver and a nice touch.
Users familiar with Microsoft Office have probably come to expect an e-mail client to be included with office suites. However, the lack of one in WordPerfect Office 11.0 is not necessarily a detriment.
The suite is integrated with Microsoft Outlooks address book, which means users can use their existing Outlook contact lists when tracking document routings.
In addition, the suite will integrate with messaging platforms such as Novell Inc.s GroupWise and software from IBMs Lotus Software division.
eWEEK Labs Senior Writer Anne Chen can be reached at [email protected]