Feisty Corel describes future product plans

Corel last week put on a roadshow for local users and announced its upcoming technology plans.

Corel last week put on a roadshow for local users and announced its upcoming technology plans.

The Canadian-based company bought WordPerfect off Novell at the beginning of this year and says it is committed to supporting and developing it for both DOS and Windows 3.x due to the high number of users who continue to use the environments and have no wish to upgrade to Windows 95 or NT.

"We are a company that develops for other platforms apart from Win95 or NT," says Patricia Vernon, Corel's communications manager for Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and India. She mentions WordPerfect versions for Unix, DOS and PowerMac are on the way in December, February and March respectively.

Corel also reminded the audience of its continuing free technical support, which Novell pioneered for WordPerfect users when it still owned it. Support is provided in New Zealand by Number One Service, part of Number One Software. Many users at the roadshow complimented Corel on the quality of help provided by Number One.

Corel claims, with 85% of the market, to be number one worldwide in PC graphics products, and claims to be the second largest in PC productivity applications with WordPerfect and Corel Office Professional.

The company is keen to trumpet new figures compiled by PC software tracking service SofTrends, which show Corel beating Microsoft and Lotus in US office suite retail sales for four straight months--June 1996 to September 1996. Corel says SofTrends estimates it accounted for 50.9% of office suite sales in that period compared to 40.7% by Microsoft and 5.8% by Lotus.

At least some of the reason for this would be because Corel, playing Microsoft at its own game, has done bundling deals with OEMs, in particular Packard Bell. Corel is currently negotiating to do the same in New Zealand.

And no matter what Microsoft Word for Windows may build into its help menu for WordPerfect defectors, there are still a lot of loyal WordPerfect users out there. This is especially true of the legal community, which Corel has recognised by planning a special Legal Suite for Windows 3.x and Windows 95 for release in February 1997 and March 1997 respectively.

Going further, Corel is to release a WordPerfect Medical Suite for Windows 95 in February 1997 and a Construction Edition, also in February. The Medical Suite is described as based on Corel Office Professional 7 with medical-specific products, such as a medical spellchecker. The Construction Edition of WordPerfect Suite 7 for Windows 95 integrates WordPerfect Suite 7 and Corel Visual CADD, as well as house plans and Corel Time Line for builders, engineers and architects. Another product on the cards for January 1997 is Corel Lumiere, which is being marketed as a competitor for Adobe Premiere, but at the low end of the market.

And among the jumble of announcements, Corel will release WordPerfect Suite 8 for Windows 95 in March next year. Corel is promising more wizards, improvements to the user interface and more Internet functionality.

But Corel is saying little yet about one of the more interesting releases slated for the first quarter of 1997--Corel Office for Java-- which will include WordPerfect, QuattroPro and Chart.

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