New WordPerfect suite to debut by midyear

Corel Corp. announced Tuesday that WordPerfect Office 2002, its new suite of office applications, will be ready for release by the middle of this calendar year.

The office suite will be available in two editions - standard and professional. The standard edition will feature the latest release -- version 10 -- of the applications WordPerfect, Presentations and Quattro Pro, a spreadsheet program. The professional edition will bundle the database Paradox 10 and Dragon Systems Inc.'s NaturallySpeaking 5.0, voice recognition software that will enable users to dictate text into documents.

Among the new features in WordPerfect 10 will be the addition of the Oxford University Press Pocket dictionary, which has 30,000 definitions. An upgrade to 70,000 definitions will cost $US19.95, according to Basia Rudak, communications manager for business applications at Corel.

Quattro Pro 10, meanwhile, will feature a new charting engine that enables users to decorate charts with graphics and symbols, effectively giving users "more power to create nice looking charts," according to Rudak.

WordPerfect Office 2002 will also feature enhanced groupware functions targeted at corporate users, according to Corel.

Both editions of the applications suite include CorelCentral 10, a personal information manager (PIM). The PIM will have an e-mail client, address book and calendar that users will be able to access from any application in the suite, the company said.

CorelCentral 10 will also include Net2Phone Inc.'s Internet telephony software, which allows users to place telephone calls or fax documents. "A user can launch a call from within the contact manager. All one has to do is click on the number," said Yonah Lloyd, vice president of business development at Net2Phone. The software will add voice capability to CorelCentral's e-mail client, enabling users to receive voice e-mails, he added.

WordPerfect Office 2002 will be compatible with Windows 95/98/Me and Windows 2000, according to Rudak. The WordPerfect word processor currently has 22 million users, most of them using it under the Windows operating system. Seeing that statistic, Rudak said it made sense to create WordPerfect Office 2002 for the Windows platform. "A Linux version (of WordPerfect Office) will depend upon user demand," she said.

Though Microsoft Corp. invested $US135 million in Corel last year, Rudak dismissed a suggestion that Office 2002 is available only for Windows because of Microsoft's investment. "Microsoft may have invested in us, but they don't have any voting rights," she said. "Microsoft invested in Corel to emphasize the .NET platform."

Corel's plan to spin off its Linux business, announced earlier this month, also had no impact or influence on the development of WordPerfect Office 2002, she asserted.

The new features in WordPerfect Office 2002 come in response to user demands for greater functionality, stability and compatibility. "Users have been constantly demanding improved compatibility with Microsoft Office applications," Rudak said. Lawyers represent a big market for Corel's software, Rudak also noted. "There was a big demand from (lawyers) to make Word documents importable to WordPerfect," she said. Similarly, Corel took feedback from longtime WordPerfect users to enhance the features that will be seen in the new version of WordPerfect 10.

The version of WordPerfect Office due after the 2002 issue will be .NET-compatible, Rudak said. "Microsoft will hopefully release .NET midway through this year. Six months later, we will be ready."

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