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Corel tells Microsoft: Move over

Behind Corel's new partnership with Netscape is a message for Microsoft: There is room for two in the desktop applications market.

Corel (COSFF) has a message for Microsoft: There is room for two in the desktop applications market.

Corel today inked a software bundling deal with Netscape Communications (NSCP) in a move admittedly intended to rattle Microsoft's cage just three days before it is to release Office 97, the latest and presumably greatest version of its 800-pound desktop suite gorilla.

Corel will bundle Netscape's upcoming Communicator Web browser and groupware package with its WordPerfect Suite 8 and Office Professional 8 applications packages, both due in late April or May of this year. The bundles will allow users to surf the Web, check email, and include everyday productivity applications, such as word processing and spreadsheet software. The Office Professional suite tacks on a database to make it the high end of the line.

Microsoft's Office 97--which the company will officially launch on Thursday after a year of talking about it--will include its own Web access and groupware client software, called Outlook.

Despite Microsoft's overwhelming dominance of the desktop application suite market, Corel's president and CEO Michael Cowpland today chanted Netscape's mantra--openness--to explain his company's logic. Cowpland sees an opportunity for Corel in supplying client software to customers who use server software from multiple vendors, instead of just Microsoft.

Cowpland specifically said that Outlook is indeed slick--but it's only useful for companies standardizing on Office 97 and Microsoft's Exchange groupware.

"We are going one step further. We'll let you collaborate with others, not just with people who have Outlook, so you can build worldwide groupware," said Cowpland.

He added that the Communicator bundle should make Corel's suites more popular with corporate users, who constitute the bread and butter of the applications suite market.

The company did not disclose the terms of the deal, except to acknowledge that Corel will pay a licensing fee to Netscape for the use of Communicator.

Corel has not announced pricing for the new Corel/Netscape bundles, but company representatives said it is not expected to drastically change from current list prices. The suites will ship this spring for Windows 95. Macintosh versions will debut later in the year.

Separately, Corel announced that it has posted a pre-beta version of Corel Office for Java to its Web site. The Java version is intended for network computer and thin-client systems and includes slimmed-down versions of WordPerfect, Corel Quattro Pro, CorelChart, and other components.

The company has not set a pricing scheme for the Java versions of its applications.