First Look: WordPerfect Office Offers More for Less
At a Glance
If you're tired of waiting for Microsoft's delayed Office 2007, consider this: Feature for feature and dollar for dollar, Corel's $300 WordPerfect Office X3 Standard tops the $400 Office 2003 Standard in every category.
All five principal apps--WordPerfect, Quattro Pro, Presentations, Mail, and Presentations Graphics--are first rate. Leading the pack is the WordPerfect word processor. For many WordPerfect users, one feature puts the program head-and-shoulders above Word and every other word processor: Reveal Codes. This View menu option opens a pane at the base of the screen showing the document's formatting codes. For fine-grain control over a file's look and content, nothing beats it.
You needn't worry about Office users' not being able to open and edit the files you create with WordPerfect Office. In WordPerfect, Quattro Pro, and Presentations, you're given the option of working in the mode of the program's Office equivalents (Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, respectively).
In testing a shipping copy of the software, I was plagued by a few minor formatting issues as I used Office file formats in the various WordPerfect Office apps, especially WordPerfect itself. I had better luck working with files in Adobe's Portable Document Format (PDF), which the suite has supported for years. This latest version adds the ability to import and edit PDF files in WordPerfect and Quattro Pro.
WordPerfect Mail, formerly the Bloomba mail client from Stata Labs, features a search function that neither Outlook nor any other e-mail program can top. The new app indexes your messages and lets you search for mail via drop-down menus by a combination of date, sender, content, and other attributes. During testing, the mail program's data store became corrupted, but I was able to restore it in just minutes via Windows' command prompt, as outlined in these instructions from Corel.
The Presentations Graphics program--formerly a component of Presentations--is now a separate app with its own shortcut on the Start menu. This image editor won't make people forget about Photoshop anytime soon, but considering that Office has no graphics program, it's a nice addition. The app has all of the standard tools for creating layouts and working with shapes, colors, textures, and shading.
Though I enjoyed using WordPerfect Office X3, it has some annoying traits. For example, the app will rather surreptitiously add Yahoo Toolbar to your browser during setup if you don't pay attention, and the pesky InstallShield Update Manager puts itself in Windows' startup list and resides in the system tray, even when no WordPerfect Office apps are open.
Such irritations aside, I think people who use their PC for business--and who are looking for a real productivity-suite upgrade--might very well find what they need in WordPerfect Office X3.
Corel WordPerfect Office X3 Standard
For a true upgrade to an office suite, business users will find much to like in Corel's package.
Street: $300 ($160 upgrade)
Current prices (if available)