eBay Purchase #27 – Corel WordPerfect Office 2000

corelwpoffice2000-introeBay Purchase Price: $15 AUD

Country of Origin: Australia

Condition: Very Good

Ever since Windows dominated the PC landscape, Microsoft Office was and still is the mainstay for productivity applications. Major competitors were Lotus and Corel, though market share had slid to the point where it didn’t really matter who was considered second or third place. Instead of attempting to copy like for like with Microsoft Office, the emphasis became about niche feature sets and avoid alienating their existing user base.

As one would gather WordPerfect Office 2000 was competing with Microsoft Office 2000, albeit with more aggressive pricing. In a similar manner, Corel also offered both a Standard and Professional edition, with Professional including their Paradox database application. This copy purchased sat in-between known as the Voice-Powered edition comprising of a headset manufactured by Philips with the Standard edition of the software. Other offshoots included Small Business and Law Office editions for the legal profession.

System requirements were more forgiving than Microsoft Office. WordPerfect Office 2000 was satisfied with a 486 DX/2 66 PC with 16 MB RAM, and either Windows 95 or NT 4.0 installed. 32 MB RAM was recommended. On the other hand, Microsoft Office 2000 was seeking a Pentium 75 and was a bit hungrier on RAM requirements particularly on Windows NT 4.0. Both office suites were around the ball park of 250 MB for installation dependant on features installed. In saying that, to use with the headset system requirements jumped up to recommending a Pentium II with 128 MB RAM.

Whilst there’s five CDs included, only one is required to install the office suite. Other discs included contain a heap of clip art and fonts, headset software, and a trial version of Corel Print Office, a now discontinued desktop publishing application.

I tested under Windows 95 OSR 2.5 using VMware Workstation. Installation is with the Corel Setup Wizard. In its early stages, the wizard will request your product serial number provided by the Product Authenticity Card. It’s easy to hit the Next button and forgo entering one; no validation takes place at all. It did stutter at having a newer version of DCOM95 (Distributed Component Object Model for Windows 95) installed already than the one provided. Whilst not the most user friendly error for many people, to be fair it’s come from Microsoft’s own DCOM95.EXE distributable file than the wizard itself. The same error occurred installing Microsoft Office 2000. Completing installation required two restarts.

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Installing WordPerfect Office 2000.


WordPerfect 9.0

The golden child in the office suite, by Version 9.0 the spotlight was well and truly gone compare to the product’s earlier years, however this hadn’t meant the word processor was a poorer cousin to Microsoft Word.

Much of the new additions compared to the previous version were minor enhancements more than anything; embedding fonts into saved documents, and the addition of 100 shapes for diagrams for instance. Surprisingly Print Preview was only just introduced. Unlike Microsoft Word however, it was essentially using Page View zoomed out to fit the entire page onscreen with the ability to continue editing the document.

On the main toolbar, navigational tweaks included auto-scrolling through documents and back and forward buttons to easily switch between locations of the insertion point had been provided.

Some of WordPerfect’s features are more obvious to find than in Microsoft Word. For example, if I wish to keep the lines of a paragraph together to prevent a split across multiple pages, it’s simply a matter of selecting Keep Text Together from the Format menu. Word and for that matter the rest of Microsoft Office has a tendency to consolidate options more under multiple tabs, so to access the same feature would have been to select Paragraph from the Format menu and choosing the Line and Page Breaks tab.

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WordPerfect showing a document created from Microsoft Word.

Overall if you had been a WordPerfect 8.0 user, it wasn’t considered a must-have upgrade unless you had a tendency to use the more advanced feature sets. I could flip a coin and be content with using either WordPerfect 9.0 or Word 2000 as my word processor of choice.


The Headset

Since the headset is only meaningful with WordPerfect, I’ll cover it here. In my case, the headset was still wrapped and unused. The ear pads deteriorated to the point it was becoming dust. Due to space and time constraints with setting up a Windows 9x PC at home, I decided to give it a miss for a trial run on its accuracy of speech to text. Version 3.0 of Dragon NaturallySpeaking was chosen to perform this task. A pamphlet is provided in order to understand the method behind dictation, such as saying “foxtrot” to display the letter ‘f’.


Quattro Pro 9.0

Originally a Borland product, Quattro Pro made some headway during the heyday of Windows 3.1, though the release of Windows 95 had been a turning point for this spreadsheet application.

Spreadsheet gurus of the 1990s gravitated towards Microsoft Excel or Lotus 1-2-3, though Quattro Pro was still a reasonable product for the SOHO environment.

Using a sample file included with WordPerfect Office, I did a simple comparative test with Excel 2000 to see how both applications would interpret the small data set into a graph without any modifications. Quattro Pro elected for a 3D bar graph and placed the title in an odd position. The X axis labels were totally missed, and generally didn’t make much sense as a whole.

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Quattro Pro offered this chart by default for the number of t-shirt orders.

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Excel’s charting features were more refined.

Excel on the other hand went for a simple 2D bar graph, and clearly identified both the X and Y axis, though the title appeared as part of the index. Whilst tweaking of graphs is generally necessary regardless, to me it’s an indication that Excel does a better job in this area.

Quattro Pro was king for users of large spreadsheets, allowing up to one million rows and 18,000 columns. Excel and 1-2-3 paled in significance with 65,536 rows and 256 columns. It took several years with the release of Excel 2007 to reach around parity when Microsoft Office file formats changed over to the Open XML standard.

Apart from the increase in worksheet size, very little worth mentioning. There was the introduction of “formula markers” that were blue triangles appearing on a cell to signify it contains a formula.

In terms of spreadsheet software, Excel 2000 and 1-2-3 9.x would be my inclination here if I was required to use it on a frequent basis.


Presentations 9.0

The origins of Presentations came from a circa 1990 product known as DrawPerfect, offering a hint that it was developed by WordPerfect Corporation. Presentation/slide show software was a relatively more saturated segment, competing with the likes of Microsoft PowerPoint, Aldus Persuasion (later with Adobe), Lotus Freelance Graphics, and Harvard Graphics at various stages in the 1990s.

Likewise with Quattro Pro there wasn’t any killer features introduced in this version, and was more of a user interface tidy up to bring more consistency across the suite. Notable features was now having the ability to export to Microsoft PowerPoint files, and the Scrapbook function was greatly enhanced allowing importation of your own media files and categorisation.

Creating a new bitmap image directly onto a slide was easy, opening an editor to customise without resorting to another application beforehand.

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Presentations displaying the second slide of a slide show.

It was noted support for Envoy (competitor to Adobe PDF), and Barista (to publish as Java-based documents) were quietly removed, indicating Corel’s recognition these products weren’t particularly successful.

I’ll admit that I’m biased here and would be more inclined to use PowerPoint, which for casual use comes with a better selection of templates to get going.


All the main applications now allowed direct publishing of files into PDF, forgoing the need to obtain Adobe Acrobat. Right-clicking on the menu bar in WordPerfect and Quattro Pro allows a swift change to suit your preference of an earlier version or competitor’s menu layout. WordPerfect could mimic Word 97, whilst Quattro Pro offered both Excel 97 and Lotus 1-2-3. Oddly Presentations had no option at all.

VBA (Visual Basic for Applications) integration was introduced now allowing implementation of complex macros that work interchangeably with Microsoft Office documents. If you hadn’t installed VBA initially as I had, the menu option is outright disabled, so you’ll need to manually rerun the setup installation program to enable it. Personally a more seamless option of presenting a dialog box requesting if you want the feature installed would have been preferable. XML was also implemented, replacing the older and more complex variation that was known as SGML (Standard Generalised Markup Language).

A small collection of utilities under the CorelCENTRAL umbrella are included, loosely offering personal information management. These aren’t well integrated into the broader office suite, and personally I’d rather use Microsoft Outlook or Claris Organizer in this segment.

Service Pack 3 was the final batch of bug fixes and enhancements freely available for the suite bringing versioning up to 9.0.0.738 from the original 9.0.0.525. There had been a Service Pack 4 (9.0.0.883) though this was only distributed as a complete piece of software, not just an additional patch file. This service pack largely was aimed at sorting out issues with Windows Terminal Server, Citrix Metraframe, and document management systems. It was only available at the time by contacting Corel, who requested your product’s serial number for validation who would mail out a CD for a small fee. The offer lasted until the release of WordPerfect Office 12 in 2004.

WordPerfect Office 2000 was also made commercially available for Linux. Corel in the late 1990s took Linux seriously, and even released their own distribution simply called Corel Linux incorporating WordPerfect 8.0. An attempt to break the Windows and Office duopoly, this endeavour was short lived.

corelwpoffice2000-frontScanned image of Corel WordPerfect Office 2000’s retail box (front). Click on the image.

 

 

 

corelwpoffice2000-backScanned image of Corel WordPerfect Office 2000’s retail box (back). Click on the image.

 

 

 

 

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