Corel corrals Win95 update with a little spit and polish
By John McCormick
Looking for a couple of worthy product upgrades ? I recommend U.S. Robotics Corp.'s
Sportster Voice modem and Corel Corp.'s Office Professional 7 suite for Microsoft Windows
95--the update to WordPerfect Suite 7.
Many users of the original WordPerfect, expecting the word processor to go down the
tubes after its long WordPerfect Corp.-to-Novell Inc.-to-Corel odyssey, gave it up in
favor of Microsoft Office. Then, to their chagrin, a fast-spreading macro virus began to
infest Microsoft Word documents.
In the meantime, Corel went to work polishing WordPerfect and the rest of Novell's old
PerfectOffice suite to the point where the 32-bit version of WordPerfect arguably does a
better job at Win95 connectivity features than Microsoft's own products.
To keep WordPerfect in the game, Corel has had to come up with good reasons for users
to stick with it, and the Canadian company has done so.
This update has a few interesting tweaks aimed at low-end desktop
publishing--WordPerfect has been the package of choice if you don't need all the tools in,
say, Aldus' PageMaker--while retaining the familiar commands. By the way, if you like
PageMaker, check out PageTools from Extensis Inc. of Portland, Ore. The World Wide Web
site is at http://www.extensis.com.
The $695 Corel Office Professional 7 for Win95 has sophisticated integration and
performs various Web-related services. Suffice it to say that if you now use WordPerfect,
you won't be disappointed by this 32-bit upgrade, not even if you need heavy-duty Web page
Besides WordPerfect 7, the suite includes the new Corel Barista for generating Java
code, CorelDraw 6, the Paradox 7 relational database manager, Presentations, Netscape
Navigator 2.01, CorelFlow for flow charts, Quattro Pro, the InfoCentral personal
information manager, Starfish Software's SideKick and Dashboard, the Quick View Plus
viewer, a native Hypertext Markup Language editor and Envoy for electronic publishing.
Paradox retains most of its individual character, by which I mean the interface isn't
the same as for the other members of the suite, but that's understandable for such a
powerful and popular RDBMS. Check out http://www.corel.com
U.S. Robotics' Sportster Voice fax modem is beginning to live up to the Skokie, Ill.,
company's name, almost like a telephone robot that can replace voice mail, fax, modem and
fax-on-demand hardware with one inexpensive (about $250) device.
The Sportster Voice has Caller ID, duplex speaker phone, multiple-voice mailbox and
paging capability with full 33.6-kilobit/sec data transfer. I definitely want to try it to
see whether it can free some much-needed desk space here at Cyberjunk Central.
The version I want to evaluate is scheduled for September release. By then Intel
Corp.'s new Pentium MMX chip could make on-the-motherboard modems much cheaper and more
practical, so the Sportster and its cousins could have really serious competition.
Look for many impressive new modem features, with prices continuing to drop through
1997. U.S. Robotics' Web site is at http://www.usr.com.
Although low-cost CD-ROM drives are widely available, some buyers and even PC makers
have learned the hard way that a low price doesn't always mean a bargain.
With the glut of CD-ROM drives and drive-manufacturing capacity out there, low-end
makers are dropping out of the market in a remarkable reversal of Gresham's Law: Good
quality is driving out bad.
A final wave of low-end drives, closeout-priced as low as $20, is looming, followed by
a stretch of price stability where high-performance drives should settle into the $90 to
John McCormick, a free-lance writer and computer consultant, has been working with
computers since the early 1960s. He welcomes mail from readers. Write to him care of
Government Computer News, 8601 Georgia Ave., Suite 300, Silver Spring, Md. 20910.