Corel WordPerfect Office 2002: Win9X/NT4/2K
Costs more than before
WordPerfect Office 2002 includes the typical productivity suite mix: a word processor, a spreadsheet app, a presentation maker, and a personal information manager-cum-e-mail client. WordPerfect Professional also ships with the Paradox 10 database and Dragon NaturallySpeaking, a speech recognition program that lets you dictate into documents rather than typing. Neither edition includes a Web page designer, although Office XP Developer includes FrontPage.
Nor does 2002 boast the low price point it used to. The upgrade price--$159 for Standard and $259 for Professional--is $50 higher than for earlier editions. What's more, the price difference between WordPerfect's and Microsoft Office's standard editions has shrunk from $150 for the 2000 editions to just $90 today. One bright spot, however: Corel Office 2002 runs on Windows 95, which is still on a fair number of home computers. The upcoming Microsoft Office XP, on the other hand, doesn't.
Installation and interface
We'll say one thing for WordPerfect Office 2002: It offers more installation choices than Microsoft Office XP. Choose from Typical, Compact, or Custom installation, or--on a space-challenged system--you can even opt to leave major chunks of the programs' code on the CD. This approach saves disk space, but you'll have to keep the disc close at hand, or, better yet, in the CD-ROM drive. And, like Office XP, WordPerfect lets you choose application components to install--not a bad idea considering that the full suite hogs more space than an NBA center flying coach: 300MB for the Typical installation and 240MB for the so-called Compact configuration. Fortunately, the installation process is as easy as pie. And if you ever decide to launch one of the uninstalled features, WordPerfect prompts you for the CD.
A familiar face
WordPerfect Office's look and feel haven't changed much since its last life. Menus and toolbars top each application's display, and various status indicators line the bottom. WordPerfect's indicators, for instance, display the name of each open document. Unfortunately, Office 2002 lacks the little aesthetic touches that smooth out Microsoft's suite, such as background shading that appears behind a toolbar icon to make it easier to see what you're about to select.
Nor has Corel imbued WordPerfect with any major suitewide interface additions. Unlike Office XP, which may alienate longtime users with its new Task Pane window, WordPerfect 2002 stays the course, which works both for and against it. You won't need any coaching to use this version, but its lack of interface innovation gives you less reason to upgrade.
Thankfully, WordPerfect hasn't dropped Dragon NaturallySpeaking, the speech recognition software the suite has included since 1997. Office 2002 Professional includes NaturallySpeaking 5.0. Unlike Office XP's subpar speech engine, NaturallySpeaking lets you use plain-English commands such as "Select that" to edit, and also works within your browser so that you can control surfing with your voice.