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Corel and Microsoft have both released new versions of their respective office software suites. Microsoft’s latest offering is a new version of Office called “XP” which the folks in Redmond, Wash., say stands for “XPerience.” Corel released its latest version of WordPerfect bundled into a package called “WordPerfect Office 2002″ which, like the auto industry, introduces itself with the “model year” 2002. Trying to decide whether to upgrade, switch, or just ditch an existing software suite is never an easy decision, but both Office XP and Office 2002 have features that might make it worthwhile for any size law firm. First, we need a little groundwork. The different software packages can be a little confusing, but it’s nothing you haven’t seen before from the two software giants. Corel’s offering is called “WordPerfect Office 2002.” My guess is that they could not just use “Office 2002″ because it would be too easy to confuse with Microsoft’s line of Office 98 and 2000. Using “WordPerfect” in the name makes good use of Corel’s most valuable trademark, but the individual programs included within the office suite are “10″ versions, as in “WordPerfect 10,” “Quattro Pro 10,” etc. It all gets confusing, doesn’t it? On the Microsoft side, the software suite is called “Office XP.” The latest rumors purport that Microsoft chose “XP” to be just different enough to strengthen their trademark rights. The individual programs within Office XP still use the traditional year designations of “Word 2002,” “Excel 2002,” etc. Each office suite from both companies comes in several different flavors such as Standard and Professional. These reviews largely focus on the word processors included within the Office suites — WordPerfect 10 and Word 2002. Word processors are the workhorses of the legal profession, and their features will largely determine which software suite a firm buys. COREL WORDPERFECT OFFICE 2002 Corel has apparently decided to concentrate on making their die-hard customers happy, and has stopped trying to do battle with Microsoft. This means that Corel is just going to do what they have done best for many years in the word processing field. Instead of trying to convince Microsoft Office users to convert to WordPerfect, Corel is just going to concentrate on convincing loyal WordPerfect customers to upgrade their existing software. This is a brilliant strategy for Corel. How long have we heard the debate between Word and WordPerfect? And how many people have you heard “Red Rover” to the other side without kicking and screaming at the top of their lungs? The answer is simple — nobody wants to switch word processing software, the one program they probably use more than anything else. That said, WordPerfect Office 2002 is absolutely perfect for the WP Die-Hards. If you’ve been using WordPerfect since the 5.1 days, and swear by Reveal Codes, and worship your macros and keyboard shortcuts, go out and make your WordPerfect Office 2002 purchase today. The suite is clean, familiar, completely customizable, and even offers several great new tools for the upgrade price. The one thing that Corel has done differently with this suite is they have stopped bundling legal-specific applications with the program. Corel is not stupid — they know that the legal community is one of their most precious customer bases. But Corel has virtually abandoned any “Legal Edition” with this new release of their software and decided to concentrate on just giving their customers a great product with the features they know and love best. Lastly, Corel made a brilliant PR move when they made sure that their new office suite would run on Windows 95. There are still many offices running Windows 95 and haven’t upgraded to Windows 98 or 2000 or ME or NT or even XP. Microsoft Office XP will not run on a machine that is running Windows 95, so you must have Windows 98. If you’re still behind in “Windows Time,” you can relax knowing that WordPerfect will work just fine for you. You’ll be happy to know that upgrading to WordPerfect Office 2002 will be like a digital homecoming. The old, familiar, and oh-so-lovable “Reveal Codes” are still there, right where they’ve always been. Down at the bottom they show you the underlying components of your document, making sure you can modify and customize the look and feel of documents. We all have war stories where Reveal Codes got us out of a sticky situation in a document. Corel has always lead in this area and I can say without hesitation that Reveal Codes is the biggest reason I’ve heard as to why people want to stay with WordPerfect instead of going to Word. “Real Time Preview” for fonts and font sizes is still available. I like this feature a lot. You can select a sentence and scroll through the font choices at the top, all the while getting a “preview” of what the sentence is going to look like in the new font. The same goes for the font size. Document conversion is even better than before. Corel boasts better compatibility with Microsoft Office 97 and 2000 in this version of their office suite. I brought a Microsoft Word 2000 document into WordPerfect and I only had to make three minor corrections. That is a fantastic statistic in my book. The only problem I had occurred when I attempted to bring over a Microsoft Office XP (Word 2002) document. Apparently, WordPerfect will not recognize the new Office XP formats just yet! I tried several times in vain. I do hope they fix this soon. WordPerfect Office 2002 offers many little updates and improvements on its software. There are so many that I cannot cover all of them here. Suffice it once again to say that WP users will find these updates are enough to convince you to upgrade. One of my favorite new features in WP Office 2002 is the “Publish to PDF” option. I’m a big supporter of Adobe’s PDF file format and I use it all the time to send documents, Web pages, etc. to others when I’m not sure what software they have on their machine. I know that they can get ahold of the free Adobe Acrobat Reader and viola! — they’ll be able to read my document without a problem. Before when you wanted to create a PDF document, you had to go out and purchase the full version of Adobe Acrobat. Not only is this a fantastic addition to the software, WP does a great job in the conversion. Another addition to WordPerfect is called “Perfect Expert.” I think this is great, but then again, most of my background is in Microsoft Word. Perfect Expert basically takes you by the hand for just about any WP function or task. Clicking on Perfect Expert brings up a box on the side of your screen, and gives you very easy access to common task such as inserting symbols, adding bullets or numbers, or adding columns. Yes, I know that all of these functions can be done from the menu at the top, but think of Perfect Expert as another “front end” to those commands. For you macro-hungry fans out there, WordPerfect includes a utility called “Perfect Script” that gives more flexibility over creating and managing your macros. Another new feature that has many people raving is WordPerfect’s “Variable Tool.” This allows users to “flag” items such as names or dates, and be able to change those “flags” later with just a few clicks instead of re-typing every instance in your document. WordPerfect Office 2002 gives some extra choices when you want to select certain portions of text. Clicking on Edit and going to Select will give you another sub-menu that allows you to select Sentence, Paragraph, Page, or All. Not a big deal, but it could come in handy in some situations. At one time, Corel offered at least 30 different versions of WordPerfect in different formats and languages. Now it’s down to two basic editions: Standard and Professional. I reviewed the Professional Edition, which is largely similar to the Standard Edition except the $100 gets you database and voice recognition software that many attorneys won’t need. MICROSOFT OFFICE XP Well, what can I say — it’s Microsoft. We can’t fight it, we all know that Microsoft has become the dominant figure in both operating systems and office programs. And it’s dominant on just about everyone else’s computer as well. I’m not necessarily saying that this is a bad thing. And without getting into that whole capitalism vs. antitrust thing, I’ll just say that a little standardization is good in the computer world, at least for now. What I’m trying to say is that many people, including myself, use Microsoft Word, Excel, etc. because so many other people are using the same programs. This means that if you create a document in Microsoft Word on your computer, you can send it to someone else and they can read the document. All of that said, if you like the version of Microsoft Office that you’re using right now, and you’ve made friends with the little paper clip, and you feel better running a Microsoft program on top of a Microsoft Operating System, then an upgrade to Office XP is a good idea — if you have the money and can meet the stringent requirements for your computer. Microsoft has made a few gaffes in its past, but this time I think they’ve shot themselves in the foot. Microsoft Office XP will not work if you are running Windows 95. Now, I know that most people have upgraded and so this won’t be much of a problem. But just in case there is that one person who still likes to use Win95, they are out of luck. In order to run Office XP, you must be running at least Windows 98. But this might not be all bad — each version of Windows has security fixes and updated features that the older versions lack. One positive feature of Office XP is that it will completely erase your existing version of Office if you choose. I elected to have XP completely erase Office 2000 from my system. I didn’t want to go through the headache of un-installing Office 2000 myself. The conversion was flawless — all my old Office 2000 documents switched over fine, and the installation took a LOT less time that I thought it would. Did I mention those Microsoft gaffes earlier? With the release of Office XP, Microsoft has concocted an interesting scheme for upgrades and new versions of the software. Before, when you decided that you wanted to upgrade to a newer version of Office, you simply went out and bought the upgrade and installed it. No problems. With the release of Office XP, Microsoft has created a subscription scheme where companies purchase subscriptions that give them access to newer versions on an annual basis. A company must elect the subscription by October. And along those same lines, be prepared for the following hurdle if you decided to install Office XP. Microsoft will require you to “activate” your copy of Office XP after you install it. This is Microsoft’s latest effort to crack down on pirated software. Office XP will run on your system for approximately 50 times before the whole Office suite goes into “Reduced Functionality Mode” where you will only be able to read documents, you won’t be able to edit anything. “Activation” requires you to receive a whole separate number from the Microsoft Corporation. Obviously, you may only “activate” your copy of the software on one computer, and possibly a second portable computer. If you attempt to install your copy of Office XP on another computer altogether, “activation” will be denied. What I can’t figure out is that I believe you still have to “register” your copy of Office XP on top of the “activation.” Good luck. So it’s time to look at a few specifics in Office XP. The interface of Office XP is a lot cleaner. Microsoft has gone to a “2-D” look rather than bulkier “3-D” look. It’s a little easier now to tell when a toolbar button is selected and I believe that the 2D buttons give you a little more room in your workspace. The only thing that I don’t like about the “new look” is the double chevrons that remain in the menus at the top. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, in Office 2000, when you clicked on File, you only saw the few commands in that menu that you had used before. At the bottom of the File menu was a double chevron that you could click on to show you the remaining commands. In other words, if you had not clicked “Print” before, when you clicked on File, the “Print” option would not appear until you clicked the double chevrons. I know this is a small complaint, but I don’t like those double chevrons. I like to see all of my options. Even though I mentioned Clippy (that annoying little paper clip helper) earlier, he does not appear by default when you use Office XP. You can bring him back to life, but I prefer the new “Ask a Question” help bar in the upper right-hand corner of Word 2002. I have to admit, I liked Clippy’s responses to questions, but I didn’t like moving him around the screen. Now with the help bar at the top, I get the same answers to my questions that Clippy gave, just without the cute wink of an eye from an animated paper clip. A new Office XP feature that is supposed to attract WordPerfect enthusiasts is the “Reveal Formatting” Task Pane. Where Corel’s WordPerfect uses “codes” to format documents, and you can see the codes in Corel’s “Reveal Codes” option, Microsoft Word uses “styles” to format documents. Now, with the “Reveal Formatting” Task Pane that pops up on the right side of the screen, you can catch merely a glimpse into what the heck Microsoft Word is actually doing with the text in your document. Now, please don’t misunderstand me, Word’s Reveal Formatting does not hold a candle to Corel’s Reveal Codes, but it’s a step in the right direction. A great feature in Office XP is the ability to select discontinuous blocks of text. For instance, you can highlight one sentence, hold down control, and highlight another sentence. Now the two sentences, separated by other text, are highlighted together, and may be copied and pasted together. Another feature is the ability to Compare Two Documents with the “Legal Blackline” option enabled. This allows a user to actually compare two documents and have the differences between the two highlighted and saved as a third document. This is handy when going through lengthy documents that are being worked on by several people at one time. And last but not least, we have Smart Tags. You may have already heard the buzz about Microsoft’s Smart Tags. Most of the “buzz” has been about Microsoft putting Smart Tags into their new versions of Windows XP, but Smart Tags already exist in Office XP today. And I will say, for the most part, I’ve been happy with them. Smart Tags are little icons that pop up in various parts of Word documents as you type. They do a variety of things. They allow you to turn off many “automatic” functions in Word that drive many people crazy. For instance, if you type “1.” with some text after it, and hit return, Word assumes you’re creating a numbered list. Now, in Office XP, as soon as you hit return, a Smart Tag will pop up. You may click on the Smart Tag and choose between several options, including turning off the numbered list. Before, you had to “undo” the numbered list, or go up to the Format menu and turn the numbering off. Lexis and Westlaw have announced that they will provide support for Smart Tags for cases and other fields. Office XP is the next offering of the ever-so-popular Microsoft Office products. But please be aware that “Office XP” is not immediately related to “Windows XP” — they are two separate products, and you don’t need one to run the other. Office XP comes in four different editions: Standard, Developer, Professional, and the Professional Special Edition. My review copy was the “Regular” Professional edition.
SUMMARY WordPerfect Office 2002 PROS: � The printed manual that ships with WordPerfect Office 2002 is much better than the general info that comes with Microsoft Office XP. You’ll also find PDF versions of the manual on the WordPerfect CD-ROMs. � The “convert text to tables” is very intuitive, works very well. � WordPerfect Office 2002 is much less expensive than Microsoft Office XP. � As already discussed, WordPerfect Office 2002 works well in all versions of Windows from 95 on up. � WordPerfect Office 2002 is reportedly a little more stable than the older version of WordPerfect. CONS: � I like using bullets in my documents. My main complaint with WP is that they don’t do bullets exactly like I want them. (Admittedly, we all have our preferences for bulleting, and WP just happens to not work for me.) First, there is too much space between the bullet and the text (yes, I know I can change the attributes, but I like to use the default when I can). Second, if I want to indent the bulleted sentence, the text indents for me, but the bullet stays where it is. It’s just my little pet peeve, I’m allowed one or two. � Several people have commented on a lack of HTML and “Internet” support in WordPerfect Office 2002. The claims are that WP has left the Internet behind and that their HTML features are weak. However, WP Office 2002 does support Cascading Style Sheets. What’s Included: Included within the Professional Edition are the following: � WordPerfect 10: The famous word processor � Quattro Pro 10: A spreadsheet application � Corel Presentations 10: An application to create presentations � CorelCENTRAL 10: A suite of applications for e-mail, appointments, etc. � Paradox 10: A database program � Dragon Naturally Speaking : A voice-recognition application. Prices: � WordPerfect Office 2002 Standard retails for $330. An upgrade is $125. � WordPerfect Office 2002 Professional retails for $420. An upgrade is $230. What You Need on Your Computer Before You Can Install and Use: � Microsoft Windows 95, 98, 2000, NT, or ME � Pentium 166 MHz Processor � 16 MB of RAM � 150 MB of hard drive space, but a “typical” installation requires 250 MB � CD-ROM drive � VGA monitor The Professional Edition requires slightly larger requirements on your processor, RAM and hard drive to run the Dragon Naturally Speaking program. Microsoft Office XP Pros: � First, you can’t accidentally click on a hyperlink in Word and have to wait for your browser to open up. To follow a hyperlink in Word now you must hold down Control, and then click. This is so great — I can’t tell you how many minutes I’ve lost to waiting for Word to open up a hyperlink in my browser when I didn’t mean to click at all. � A much more clear interface. � Grammar checking is smarter. Cons: � Microsoft Office XP won’t work with anything less than Windows 98 � You must “activate” the software in addition to installing and registering it, plus you must enter into some crazy kind of subscription service in order to get future upgrades. � Several people who have put Office XP through more than I have claim that XP is not as stable as Office 2000. What’s Included: Standard includes the following offerings: � Word 2002: A word processor � Excel 2002: A spreadsheet application � Outlook 2002: An application for e-mail, contacts, etc. � PowerPoint 2002: An application to create presentations Professional merely adds Access 2002 (a database application) to that list. The Professional Special Edition includes FrontPage 2002 (an HTML editor), Publisher 2002 (a desktop publishing application), and a bonus IntelliMouse. Developer bundles some special software tools for the total techies out there. Prices: � Microsoft Office XP Standard Edition retails for $450. An upgrade is $239. � Microsoft Office XP Professional retails for $550. An upgrade is $329. What You Need on Your Computer Before You Can Install and Use: � Windows 98, 2000 Professional, NT, or ME � Pentium 133 MHz � 24 MB of RAM if you’re running Windows 98. 32 MB of RAM if you’re running Windows ME or NT. And 64 MB of RAM if you’re running Windows 2000 Professional. Also, you will need an “additional” 8 MB of RAM for each and every Office program that you want to run simultaneously. For example, having Word and Excel open at the same time would require an additional 16 MB of RAM. � 210 MB of free space on your hard drive for the Standard Edition, and 245 MB of free space for Professional � CD-ROM drive � Super VGA monitor

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