Corel puts WordPerfect X3 in play

Corel Corp. is apparently hoping to avoid the jinx of an unlucky number by changing the numbering of the latest versions of its flagship applications.

The successors to WordPerfect Office 12 and CorelDraw Graphics Suite 12 were released this week, each dubbed X3 after their names.

While one industry analyst thinks the new nomenclature gives the products “space-age” titles, Corel executives hope the enhancements in the products will be what wins buyers over.

“These two products are going to help our channel reach the value-conscious and small business buyers, as well as consumers and governments,” said Fiaaz Walji, Corel’s director of channel sales.

WordPerfect Office X3, which comes in Standard, Pro, Education and Home editions, which share all but one of a new set of features. The retail version of the Standard edition now comes with WordPerfect Mail, an e-mail, contact and calendaring application.

“It’s more of an integrated suite that goes head to head with Microsoft (Office),” said Jason Larock, WordPerfect product director.

In addition to a freshening of the interface with new icons, new features that all versions share include enhanced PDF publishing capabilities, such as the ability to make PDF files from QuatroPro spreadsheets, and to import PDFs into the word processor.

Users can choose to delete metadata (such as revisions)as a document is saved so recipients can’t see certain information.

The Standard edition has a suggested retail price of $199.99. The Professional edition starts at $319.99, with volume licencing available. The Student and Teacher Edition costs $119.99, while the Home edition costs $99.99 after a $20 mail in rebate.

According to Denise McDonnell, product director for CorelDraw X3, a graphics suite which will be released next month, has some 40 new features, most of which improve its ease of use.

For example, an interactive hint system pops up when a user chooses a tool, which tells how to use it, shows shortcut keys and links to tutorials for deeper information.

“It helps new users get over that learning curve and existing users identify enhancements to their workflow they can make through, for example, with the short-cut keys, said McDonnell.”

There’s also a printed handbook — repeated in the application as a PDF – which shows how 16 professionals use CorelDraw to solve problems.

For those upgrading from versions 10, 11 and 12 there’s a “Highlight What’s New” option which will shade new and unfamiliar features they may encounter.

CorelTrace, a bit-mapping to vector tracing engine which had been sold separately, has been enhanced and folded into X3 and renamed to PowerTrace.

PhotoPaint has also been enhanced through the addition of an Image Adjustment Lab, which lets users change image colour, saturation and contrast levels in one place. For non-professionals there’s an auto-adjust feature.

CorelDraw X3 costs $489 for the full version.

“I think they’re both worthwhile upgrades,” said Joe Wilcox of Jupiter Research, who liked the numbering change. “I wouldn’t say they’re revolutionary upgrades. They’re between revolutionary and evolutionary.”

He’s also said he’s noticed a change in the company since David Dobson came over from IBM to become Corel’s CEO. “Corel seems to be more strategically focused than in the past,” he said. “Their marketing has improved significantly and they’ve taken a more tactical approach to their products.”


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