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Corel announces Tablet PC software

The Canadian software maker's Grafigo graphics program is one of the first third-party applications for Microsoft's upcoming Tablet PC format.

SAN FRANCISCO--Canadian software maker Corel on Tuesday announced one of the first third-party applications for Microsoft's upcoming Tablet PC format.

Corel's Grafigo graphics software is scheduled to debut with the first Tablet PC devices Nov. 7. Pricing has not been set, but a Corel representative said the application, which handles graphics creation, viewing and editing, may be offered as a free download.

"We want to show Corel's commitment to the Tablet PC form factor," Corel product Manager Roe McFarlane said during a demonstration at the Seybold publishing trade show here. "We're one of the few independent software vendors who has taken this operating system seriously out of the gate."

The Tablet PC is Microsoft's latest effort to reinvent mobile computing. Devices using the operating system will perform most of the same functions as a laptop PC but will have touch-sensitive screens with handwriting recognition for easy data entry, and wireless connections for plugging into the Internet and corporate networks and exchanging data with other Tablet PC devices.

Microsoft has been touting the concept for several years and is set to deliver the goods Nov. 7, when PC makers Toshiba, Acer and Fujitsu unveil the first Tablet PC models.

While the Tablet PC version of the Windows XP operating system will include applications for tasks such as e-mail and Web browsing, Corel hopes Grafigo will become the basis for doing visual work on the device, McFarlane said. The software will include basic tools for sketching, annotating drawings and creating design documents.

Building inspectors, for example, could use Grafigo to view the most recent plans for a project, add notes and send the revised plans to a colleague.

McFarlane said the base version of Grafigo will be available at low or no cost, as Corel tries to seed the market for adoption of the tablet PC as a more efficient replacement for pen-and-paper graphics. The company expects to make money on the product by selling add-on packs with functions, images and templates designed for specific industries and professions.

"We can't afford to be a niche product out of the gate," McFarlane said. "Anything beyond ink and paper is where we want to be."

On the verge of collapse two years ago, Corel has since begun a modest rebound, mostly recently winning new business and consumer converts for its WordPerfect software.