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WordPerfect Office X3 review: WordPerfect Office X3

WordPerfect Office X3

5 min read
Corel WordPerfect Office X3
Corel has a winner in WordPerfect Office X3, a feature-packed productivity suite that's just as easy to use--and in many ways more innovative than--industry-goliath Microsoft Office 2003. Not only can X3's three core applications--WordPerfect, Quattro Pro, and Presentations--save files in the ubiquitous Adobe Acrobat (PDF) format, its WordPerfect word processor can import and edit PDFs, too. While this import feature needs work, it's convenient for editing long, text-based PDFs used by legal and government workers. The interface of X3 has updated icons and toolbars that match Windows XP themes, and its new Yahoo toolbar lets you conduct Web searches from within WordPerfect. A great new security feature is WordPerfect's ability to strip out the hidden metadata within documents. This helps prevent any comments, undo/redo changes, and other sensitive information from reaching an unwanted audience when you share files--a similar feature is expected to ship within Office 12 later this year.

Overall, WordPerfect Office X3 is a solid upgrade for longtime users, particularly those who manage a lot of PDFs. Die-hard Microsoft fans may want to wait to see what Redmond has up its sleeve with the radical changes expected within the upcoming Microsoft Office 12. At the same time, current users of Microsoft Office 2003 who don't want to deal with the potentially steep learning curve in store for Office 12 may prefer to try the more familiar interface and improved tools within Corel's suite.


WordPerfect Office X3

The Good

Costs less than Microsoft Office 2003; Quattro Pro gets PDF export; WordPerfect strips metadata from documents and adds Yahoo Web search.

The Bad

PDF-import feature needs work; no free phone support.

The Bottom Line

Corel WordPerfect Office X3 is a very good productivity suite with enough enhancements to warrant an upgrade. Microsoft Office users, though, should wait for Microsoft Office 12.
We tested WordPerfect Office X3 Standard Edition, which includes WordPerfect, Quattro Pro (a spreadsheet maker), Presentations, and WordPerfect Mail. The Standard Edition ships on three CDs, but only the first CD, with the three core apps, is essential. The second disc includes clip art, photos, fonts, and manuals, as well as Adobe Acrobat Reader 7 and Microsoft Internet Explorer 6. The third CD features free third-party Office X3 training videos.

Setup proceeded smoothly and took about 30 minutes in our tests. Installing new versions of WordPerfect, Quattro Pro, and Presentations, as well as an update of WordPerfect Mail (which was already on our test PC), took 800MB of hard disk space.

The icons and the toolbars in WordPerfect Office X3 are more colorful and detailed than their drab predecessors in WordPerfect 12.

WordPerfect Office X3 enjoys a much-needed face-lift. Its applications sport a jazzier look that mirrors the motif of Windows XP and gives better detail and color to icons--not an accident. By minimizing the differences between the Corel and Microsoft productivity suites, Corel hopes to reduce the training time for converts from Microsoft Office. Two nifty carryover features from WordPerfect Office 12 nicely illustrate this point. For instance, the Compatibility Toolbar lets you convert documents to Excel, PowerPoint, or Word formats (as well as HTML, PDF, or XML) with a single click. Next, the Workspace Manager pop-up menu allows you to choose Microsoft or WordPerfect keystrokes, menus, and toolbars for each application in the Corel suite.

Corel WordPerfect Office X3 comes in five versions: the $399 Professional, the $349 Small Business, the $299 Standard, the $99 Student & Teacher, and the $79 Home. All flavors include the WordPerfect word processor and Quattro Pro spreadsheet application, while WordPerfect Mail comes with only the Standard and Small Business editions. (The other versions get a trial edition.) Home lacks Presentations, while a powerful Paradox database is bundled within the Professional and Student & Teacher editions.

Across the board, WordPerfect Office X3 is more affordable than Microsoft Office 2003. For instance, WordPerfect X3 Standard, which includes the three core apps and WordPerfect Mail, costs $100 less than Microsoft Office 2003 Standard with its Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook. And the Corel WordPerfect X3 Student & Teacher edition costs $50 less than its Microsoft competitor.

WordPerfect X3 can import and edit Adobe Acrobat (PDF).

What's new in Corel WordPerfect X3? For starters, Quattro Pro can now export PDF files. By comparison, in the previous edition of the suite, only WordPerfect and Presentation could create Acrobat documents. More intriguing, though, is the PDF-editing feature. WordPerfect X3 is the first office suite that lets you import an Acrobat file, edit its contents, and resave the file as a PDF or another format. By comparison, Microsoft hasn't yet offered PDF export, although it plans to do so in the Office 12 suite, expected to be released later this year.

Unfortunately, WordPerfect sometimes does a poor job of retaining the original PDF's formatting. Note how this converted PDF barely resembles the PDF in the previous image.

Alas, the new PDF-editing feature is far from perfect. In our tests, WordPerfect had problems converting highly formatted documents that contained several images. In fact, it often butchered the document's design and formatting. Corel officials acknowledge these shortcomings and report that X3's PDF editing is best for long text documents. Indeed, we had better luck converting PDFs that were mostly text.

Dozens of small improvements are scattered throughout the suite, but WordPerfect gets most of X3's marquee upgrades. One handy addition: Yahoo search capabilities are embedded within the word processor. You now can highlight text in a WordPerfect document and select Search With Yahoo from the right-click menu, and Web search results appear in a browser window. Yahoo also adds a toolbar to WordPerfect, but you can easily remove it via the View menu.

Another helpful new tool gives you the ability to strip formatting (again via a right-click menu) from text copied from Web pages before pasting it in a WordPerfect document. If you've ever pasted oddly formatted text from a Web site and had it seriously mess up your document, you can appreciate this seemingly simple upgrade. Another simple tweak, which lawyers, business executives, politicians, and public relations experts will appreciate, is Save Without Metadata. This menu option lets you save documents without the comments, undo history, reviewers' notes, and other confidential and potentially embarrassing text often hidden inside a file.

Corel WordPerfect Office X3 users get free, unlimited e-mail support, and Corel promises a 24-hour response time. Unfortunately, phone support is costly: $25 per incident; a trio of incidents costs $70, and a five-pack is $100. A range of other plans is available for businesses. Corel's online knowledge base provides comprehensive details on WordPerfect Office. WordPerfect X3's training videos are helpful for newcomers, but they're difficult to access on the CD. For instance, after loading the training disc, a folder appeared onscreen. Due to the bad interface design, we had to click several icons before finding one that launched the videos.

WordPerfect Office X3

Score Breakdown

Setup 8Features 7Support 6