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Corel to test WordPerfect for Linux

The company plans to begin selling a Linux-native version of its productivity software on a trial basis later this month.

David Becker Staff Writer, CNET News.com
David Becker
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David Becker
Corel plans to test the waters later this month for a Linux version of its WordPerfect productivity software.

A Corel representative said the company's online store will begin selling a "proof-of-concept" Linux-native version of WordPerfect on April 15. "This pilot project is designed to determine the feasibility of developing future Linux versions of WordPerfect or WordPerfect Office," the representative said.

Corel previously produced a Linux-native version of WordPerfect 8, released in 1998, and offered a Linux-translated version of WordPerfect 9 in 2000, when Linux was still a cornerstone of the company's broader strategy.

Corel has since backed off Linux and chewed through a $135 million bailout from Microsoft. It went private last year, in a $98 million buyout by a San Francisco venture capital firm.

The company has also shed several business units and laid off employees to focus on what the new owners consider its two key business segments: graphics software and WordPerfect.

WordPerfect made some notable market gains a few years ago, when major PC makers began preloading it on their low-end models, but the deals didn't create much profit. The company plans to begin selling version 12 of WordPerfect later this month, promoting tools and interface enhancements that make it similar to Microsoft's market-dominating Office.

On the Linux side, WordPerfect will primarily compete with Sun Microsystems' StarOffice and its open-source offshoot, OpenOffice.org, which has made widely publicized gains lately with government customers.