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Pursuing perfection

Ever since Microsoft Word came on to the scene, WordPerfect has played second fiddle. But a new suite could change that tune.

Computing old fogeys might remember a time when WordPerfect ruled the roost among word-processing tools. But ever since Microsoft Word came on to the scene, WordPerfect has played second fiddle.

Now Corel has bundled WordPerfect into a multifaceted suite, now at WordPerfect Office version 12. The idea is to replicate Microsoft’s various Office suites, but at a fraction of the price: The WordPerfect suite goes for about half of what its Microsoft equivalent costs. The home edition of the suite includes Norton Internet Security 2005, the Quattro Pro database program, Corel Photobook, Corel PhotoAlbum, the WordPerfect Office Ready finance application, Pinnacle’s InstantCD/DVD burning software, and Encyclopedia Britannica’s Ready Reference 2005.

At first glance, putting all that stuff into one package has the feel of, “Let’s throw it all at the wall and see what sticks.” Odds are, you’re not going to use more than one or two of these programs, especially if, say, you already have a standalone CD burning program–or if you understand that the Internet puts most encyclopediae to shame.

Fortunately, the WordPerfect suite lets you install only the programs that you want, and the one you’ll probably want most is the one in the title. Detractors of WordPerfect gripe about how little it resembles Word; devotees of WordPerfect love it for the same reason. Corel wisely caters to both camps by offering a start-up menu that lets you run WordPerfect in its natural mode (crazy search-string codes and all), or in an interface that more closely resembles Word–it even lets you save your work as a Word document if you like.

By acknowledging Word’s dominance in this arena, Corel made a wise move by giving users the option of adapting WordPerfect this way. Office 12 is a great buy for beginners, and a nice option for those who’d like an easy, intuitive word processing program without breaking the bank.

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