Word processors

Feds view Word, WordPerfect equally

By Richard W. Walker

GCN Staff

At the Army Corps of Engineers' district office in Sacramento, Calif., PC users will soon switch to Microsoft Word 97 from Corel WordPerfect 8, part of a corpswide software mandate from Washington.

Corps architect Mark Bagley isn't thrilled about that. He and his colleagues are WordPerfect fans.

'We've seen a little bit of Word and it doesn't do nearly what we can do with WordPerfect,' he said.

Such is the intractable product partisanship encountered on the federal word processing software battleground, where it's almost exclusively a contest of titans: Word vs. WordPerfect.

In the latest skirmish, as gauged by the most recent GCN survey, the two brands pulled even'WordPerfect 8 and Word 97 deadlocked at No. 1 in the overall quality rankings.

User views
'I like the ease of use of Word. You don't have to have that much knowledge just to type up a document and spit it out.'

'Gloria Christensen, computer specialist, Army recruiting battalion, Jacksonville, Fla., on Word 97

'The [graphics editing features] inherent in Word are somewhat archaic. As Word becomes more of a desktop publishing entity, you really need significant graphics and picture editing and manipulation capabilities.'

'Jim Glaser, information systems manager, Coast Guard Facilities Design and Construction Center, Norfolk, Va., on Word 97

The last time GCN surveyed Windows word processors, more than two years ago, Word 97 topped the rankings, with WordPerfect 7 trailing by six points [GCN, May 12, 1997].

In the latest survey, Word 7.0 captured the third spot, followed by WordPerfect 7 at No. 4.

Overall, the federal market belongs to Microsoft Corp.'68 percent of feds responding to the survey use various versions of Word.

Word 97 headed the list at 56 percent of the installed base. Word 7.0 accounted for 6 percent of the base. Microsoft's latest version, Word 2000, has garnered 3 percent of the market.

Corel's WordPerfect versions share a 33 percent slice of the market, with WordPerfect 8 occupying 18 percent of the market. WordPerfect 7 has a 6 percent share, while WordPerfect 2000 has gained a 5 percent piece of the base.

At the Corps of Engineers office in Sacramento, staff members use WordPerfect 8 mostly for text processing, Bagley said. But when they need to put graphics into reports and other documents, the program easily does the trick.

'It handles graphics so much better than Word,' Bagley said. 'We import drawings from AutoCAD [from AutoDesk Inc. of San Raphael, Calif.] into WordPerfect for our documentation. It also handles tables and columns easily.'

Bagley said he likes WordPerfect 8 more than WordPerfect 7. 'It's more stable. It handles objects better.'

He had only a minor complaint about WordPerfect 8. 'For some reason, whenever you tried to do a tab, it would indent automatically rather than tab it,' he said. 'I had to search all over to try to find out how to shut that off.'

At the office for the Smithsonian Institution's physical plant, assistant director Howard Wink also gave WordPerfect 8 the nod over Word.

'It's very easy to use,' he said. 'I've also used Word. I have it on the c: drive. I prefer WordPerfect 8 over that.'

It's a different story at the Army recruiting battalion in Jacksonville, Fla., where Word rules.

Versions vary

'What makes it nice is that you can use different versions,' said Gloria Christensen, a computer specialist at the center. 'We have a lot of users out in the field who don't have Word 97.'

The Jacksonville center's WAN includes about 300 users in three states' Florida, Georgia and South Carolina. Most of them use Word for basic word processing, Christensen said.

Employees at the Coast Guard's Facilities Design and Construction Center in Norfolk, Va., use Word 97 for chores more strenuous than word-crunching.

'We use it to publish Web pages with the extension that Microsoft put out several years ago,' said Jim Glaser, the center's information systems manager. It works for doing simple, static Web pages, he said.

Government Computer News survey: Windows word processors
to use
and help
E-mail function
and database
merging ability
Corel WordPerfect 869897777695938
Microsoft Word 9769948256636254
Microsoft Word 7.065886350638063
Corel WordPerfect 764907078706044

and coaches
for special
tasks and
and drawing
editing and
Desktop publishing
and formatting
Corel WordPerfect
Word 97
Microsoft Word 7.0575678677844
Corel WordPerfect 7562590809013

The Government Computer News Product Preference Survey is designed to give federal buyers detailed quantitative data on specific computer and communications products, as rated by federal users.

The survey also measures the relative importance of product attributes in selection of those products.

This survey on word processors was part of a questionnaire mailed to 4,000 federal readers of GCN who on their subscription application forms identified themselves as buyers and users of word processing software. We received 161 responses to this part of the questionnaire.

The software in the survey was chosen because it represents the bulk of such products used in government. This report lists results only for those brands that received at least 10 responses.

The overall rating for each company was developed by averaging all individual attribute scores.

Top scores are in red.

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