Corel gives Microsoft a run for its money
When I was asked to write a review and comparison of Microsoft Office 2000 and Corel WordPerfect Office 2000, I didn’t think it was going to be much of a contest. Little did I know that, as a power Microsoft Office user, I would be very surprised with what I found. Corel showed quite favourably in my tests.
Microsoft Office 2000
I’ve been hearing much about Microsoft Office 2000’s new Web-based capabilities, where all Microsoft Office applications have the ability to publish and manipulate Web pages on the Internet.
I never realized just how useful these capabilities would actually be. They allow for maximum collaboration when a group is working on a specific project.
All of the standard applications have the ability to send e-mail, which is not new. But in this case, when you select Send, you can send your document as an attachment or directly as an e-mail document that you can view with Outlook, and with the proper formatting applied. When I tested the “e-mail directly” feature, Microsoft Outlook did not open on my desktop, but the usual e-mail fields were added to the top of my current application window.
Microsoft Office 2000 is not for somebody who has been holding onto Windows 3.x or for those who have installed NT 3.5x and don’t see a reason to upgrade their operating system. If you plan to publish your Office documents directly to a Web server you will need Microsoft Internet Information Server 4.0 for NT Server 4.0, or Personal Web Server for Windows NT Workstation 4.0.
In order to use the Web collaboration capabilities, you will need to install Microsoft Personal Web Server 4.0 for Windows 95, which is included with Front Page. In order for work group members to collaborate on a project or to read help files, Internet Explorer 5.0 or Windows 98 is required.
For questions about Microsoft Office Suite, you can get context sensitive help or ask the Office Assistant a question in plain English and it will go through the help files for the answer and come back with a series of 10 topics. That’s right, the Office Assistant is still here, but Microsoft has been listening to its software users. They have given you the option of turning the Assistant off. However, they have a couple of new additions to the Office Assistant team. Some are in 3D, so you may find them entertaining, especially when you have a need for distraction when you’re experiencing something like writer’s block.
Microsoft Office 2000 Premium includes: Word, Access, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Publisher, Front Page and newcomer PhotoDraw. Supporting applications include Office Server Extensions and Microsoft Office Web Components.
Corel WordPerfect Office 2000
Now I must admit, I thought I would be let down by this suite. Having used and supported WordPerfect in all its versions since 1988, I thought I knew what the suite was all about.
What a pleasant surprise to find that they have taken care to put together a package that could give Microsoft a run for its money.
WordPerfect Office 2000 includes two Internet tools to help webmasters and end-users create Web sites: Trellix 2.0 and Net Perfect. Corel Application Management tools include: Corel Distribute, Corel Settings Editor and Corel Custom File Administrator. Scripting languages include Perfect Script and Microsoft Visual Basic for Applications. The release version of WordPerfect Office 2000 will also include Dragon NaturallySpeaking 3.0 which allows you to speak text instead of typing it.
Corel’s “install as you go” attitude allows you to install only those components that you use and then, if you select a feature that is not installed, the program gives you the opportunity to do so right away.
One of the new features I noticed on most of the applications is a non-intrusive browser-like interface which sits in the frame on the left side of the applications’ window. This browser interface can be turned off or minimized to give you a full-screen view. It allows you to navigate through the views in your document, or even go back to a home position.
If you have any questions about your software Corel has included the “Ask The Perfect Expert” utility where you can ask a question in plain English and it will go through the Help files to find the appropriate answer and provide you with a list of topics.
In the Corel WordPerfect Office 2000 corner we have: WordPerfect 9, Paradox 9, Quattro Pro 9, Presentation 9, Control Centre, Desktop Application Director and, new to Corel, Trellix 2.0.
WordPerfect Office 2000 comes in five different flavours: Academic Edition, Standard Edition, Standard Edition with Dragon NaturallySpeaking, Professional Edition and Legal Edition — each with an increasing number of applications and capabilities. The spoken-text capability will be included with the release version of WordPerfect Office Standard Edition with Dragon NaturallySpeaking and higher, and is not reviewed here. I will say, though, that in today’s open concept workplace I doubt we’ll be seeing a lot of people talking to their computers instead of typing. The ambient noise would make it next to impossible to get accurate speech-to-text recognition.
Some supporting applications and utilities included with the software are Adobe Acrobat Reader, WordPerfect Office 2000 Reference Centre, Ask The Perfect Expert, Perfect Expert, Corel Versions and Bitstreams Font Navigator.
A typical install will take approximately 292MB of hard drive space, while compact installation will take about 195MB. One of the install choices that will be well received by road warriors and those with limited hard drive space is the option of installing only those files required to run WordPerfect Office from the CD ROM.
The features for both these office suites are too numerous to mention here, but except for the lack of an e-mail reader and a Web browser in WordPerfect Office suite, and the missing speech-to-text software from Microsoft, they are both pretty much equal.
Overall the packages are both geared to productivity and work-group collaboration. They are both Web aware, and can easily publish pages to an intranet or Internet Web site. They will both open each other’s documents and spreadsheets. They both have user friendly interfaces and help programs to help users with questions.
The only problem I had was with the use of Paradox, and I’m afraid that a relational database is kind of a private thing. Once you learn one you tend to stick to it because it’s hard to start over again. I was able to import some Access 97 databases into Paradox, but found that it wasn’t as easy as say opening a Word document in WordPerfect. The reverse is true.
If you want a total productivity package with the same name on all the components, then Microsoft Office 2000 may be for you. Otherwise, Corel WordPerfect Office 2000 is a viable option. I know I’ll be exploring it more in the weeks to come.
Dupuis is a senior technical support analyst in Toronto.