Corel WordPerfect remains king, but its crown is starting to slip

Corel WordPerfect remains king, but its crown is starting to slip

By John Breeden II

GCN Staff







In trying to compete with Microsoft Word, Corel has added to WordPerfect 9 some bells and whistles that can be maddening, although they're at least manageable.


This review is part of an occasional series about programs in the recently released major office suites: Corel WordPerfect Office 2000, Lotus SmartSuite Millennium Edition 9.5 and Microsoft Office 2000.



WordPerfect 9 with Dragon NaturallySpeaking voice recognition software leads off Corel Corp.'s new professional office suite. In my view, WordPerfect 9 still ranks as the best of the big three word processors.

A word of caution, though: As WordPerfect tries to compete directly with Microsoft Word by adding functions and features, this once-dominant word processor gets less easy to use.'Most users don't want any more fancy features. They merely want to type letters or memos and do basic formatting. WordPerfect has always been good for that.

Simplicity was once its hallmark, but times are changing. WordPerfect 9 does some of the same things that are so maddening in Microsoft Word, but to a lesser extent.

I hate it when a word processor thinks it knows how to format my documents better than I do.






Box Score''''''''
WordPerfect 9

Word processor in Corel

WordPerfect Office 2000



Corel Corp.; Ottawa, Ontario;

tel. 888-267-3548

www.corel.com

Suite price: $117 on GSA Advantage, at www.fss.gsa.gov


+ Reveal Codes shows why things

happen


- Features are increasingly

complicated to manage



Real-life requirements:

Windows 9x or NT, 200 MHz or faster

Pentium processor, 32M of RAM,

200M of free Storage



WordPerfect 9's overthinking is at least manageable. When you type in a hyperlink such as www.fbi.gov, the program tries to make it a clickable link.

That might be OK if you always post to the Web, but it looks silly when you are just writing a memo.

Also, as a default, WordPerfect 9 applies something called Smart Quotes. When you type in a double quote, the program slants the quote marks in the direction of the text. Sometimes it's unnecessary, and trying to turn the thing off or back on proves difficult.

Both the Smart Quotes and the automatic linking can be disabled, but it's no easy ride finding out how. The Smart Quotes feature is buried about three levels down in a place you would never find if you didn't know how to get there.

The help functions point out, rather vaguely, where the controls for all features are, and different smart controls are positioned under different menu options.

The saving grace is that Corel wisely left its Reveal Codes option in place. With a mouse click, you can view every formatting code that changes the document. If green text appears and you can't figure out why, choose Reveal Codes and eliminate the command that colored the text.

This is most helpful when inserting graphics into a document, as you can see exactly how the program is being told to display the art.

WordPerfect 9 remains king of the word processors, but its lead is slipping.'As Corel adds more features, it should be cautious about reducing functionality. WordPerfect 9 is less muddled than the other suites' word processors and fully compatible with its earlier versions.

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