- The Washington Times - Monday, January 16, 2006

It’s back. WordPerfect, the once-dominant DOS and Windows word processor, is returning; new, less expensive, still striving for perfection.

The $299 WordPerfect Office X3 Suite is being touted by publisher Corel Corp. as a more reasonably priced alternative to the Office suite that Microsoft Corp. puts out for $100 more.

In demonstrations and in testing, I’ve seen some nice capabilities in WordPerfect that could allow someone to format a book, newsletter or report to an extent not normally associated with a “mere” word processing program.

The number of features WordPerfect, or “WP” to users, can pack in is impressive. One of the newest is the ability to open Adobe PDF files and edit them as word processing documents, with no special conversion required. The program is also adept at saving documents as PDFs, another plus.

At the same time, WordPerfect is a good, reliable, “standard” word processor: If you need to write memos, letters, resumes, articles, novellas, this program can handle it. The Standard Edition — also available as a $159 upgrade for users of previous WP editions or of some competitive products — includes the Quattro Pro X3 spreadsheet and Presentations X3, with an e-mail client and the Paradox database.

That’s a lot of software for the money.

The extra features of WordPerfect are a bonus, but frankly they would be worth a lot less without compatibility between WP and universe-dominating Microsoft Word.

Here, there are some challenges. I can move files between the two programs, but success is a bit uneven. WordPerfect will open just about any Microsoft Word file I can throw at it, and without too much problem — only a few minor layout fixes.

The same can’t always be said for the reverse trip, although to be fair, my test here involved a PDF file that I opened in WordPerfect, saved as a Microsoft Word file and then opened with Word on the Mac. But whether it was the Mac or Windows version of Microsoft Word, both had some formatting issues with the PDF file as edited by WordPerfect. This, too, can be overcome with some attention to formatting, but I was surprised by the extra work that would be required.

My limited test schedule didn’t allow me to work with either Quattro Pro X3 or Presentations X3, but demonstrations by Corel suggest that these programs are capable in and of themselves. Both claim file compatibility with Microsoft Excel and PowerPoint.

Comment also should be made about WordPerfect Mail, a new WP suite component. The software includes contact, e-mail and calendar management, and seems a decent rival to Microsoft Outlook. However, I found filtering of some e-mail to be spotty — sometimes the program would place the e-mail in a subfolder; other times it wouldn’t.

There also is a Home Edition of WordPerfect Office X3 that for $99 gives users the word processor, spreadsheet, a trial of the e-mail program and a bunch of extras home users might like. For the money, this delivers a lot to home users and students.

For the business user, WordPerfect X3 may or may not be a lucky number.

It’s a highly capable piece of software that delivers a raft of features.

But performance is a bit uneven, and when push comes to shove, that could lead to frayed nerves as deadlines approach. Details can be found at www.corel.com.

E-mail MarkKel@aol.com or visit http://www.kellner.us.

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