Can anyone compete successfully with Microsoft Office when it comes to small business software? Corel is taking a pretty good run it. The company's productivity and graphics applications long-time staples in offices, but overshadowed in recent years have been gaining momentum recently. Corel is now taking another step towards at least denting Microsoft Office's market dominance.
"Businesses have told us that they want an option to be Microsoft-free, except for the operating system." Corel's CEO Amish Mehta said. The option from the the Ottawa-based Corel is today's release of WordPerfect Office 12 Small Business Edition.
One of the problems with small business software, said Mehta, who took the top spot at Corel when it was acquired by Vector Capital in August 2003, is that "small business can mean anything" and often results in enterprise applications being packaged for SMBs.
"It's impossible to compete head on with Microsoft and Adobe in the enterprise," Mehta said, but quickly added it's a different story when it comes to SMBs. "Small businesses are looking for broad office productivity software to run the business. A small business that just spent $500 for a PC, doesn't want to spend $500 more for software."
In keeping with that thinking, WordPerfect Office 12 Small Business Edition is aimed at companies with fewer than 50 PC users and will carry a $349 suggested retail price (with an upgrade price of $179, which applies to a broad range of both Corel and Microsoft products). Whether the aggressive pricing will make you want to switch from Microsoft is up to you, but there's no denying that Corel is serious about making the offer a tempting one.
WordPerfect 12 Office, which included WordPerfect, Quattro Pro (spreadsheet) and Presentations, is no slouch of a product. However, the company is piling it on in the small business edition. In addition to the three applications listed above, it includes Paint Shop Pro 9 for photo and image editing, a new e-mail client called WordPerfect Mail, Norton Internet Security 2005, a slew of templates and the new Task Manager, which serves as the starting point for launching applications.
Mark Rathwell, product manager, WordPerfect Office 12 Small Business Edition, described WordPerfect Mail, as "the most exciting new element" in the new suite. He said it has everything you'd expect in an e-mail client (contact manager, shared calendars and so on), plus spam-blocking and wizard-driven RSS feeds. And, he adds, it doesn't require a mail server.
|WordPerfect Mail: Click to view larger.|
However, the star of e-mail client, which is the result of a partnership with Yahoo, is search. "Ever try to do a search in Outlook?" asks Mehta. The search capabilities in WordPerfect Mail are "orders of magnitudes faster than Outlook," Rathwell added.
The Task at Hand
If there's a common theme that runs through small businesses it's that "you never have enough time to do everything you want to do," said Rathwell. That's where WordPerfect Office 12 Small Business Edition Task Manager comes in, he said.
The focal point of the suite, Task manager lets you pick from a wide range of WordPerfect OfficeReady Business Essential templates (e.g., business presentations, reports, stationery and marketing materials) and Business Plans templates (e.g., financial analysis and sample business plans for restaurants, franchisees, distributors and manufacturers and so on).
After you pick a template based on what you want to accomplish, it will launch you into the right application. "SMBs work by task," Rathwell said, and don't necessarily think in terms of which application to use to accomplish something. You can also manage how your workspace looks to you, and choose from WordPerfect, Microsoft Word, WordPerfect 5.1 (for a classic look) or Legal user interfaces (WordPerfect has a strong following among law firms). Compatibility with Word is a big focus of both the new application suite and the previous version of WordPerfect Office. In fact, Corel boasts that it is compatible with more versions of Microsoft products than Microsoft.
|Task Manager: Click to view larger.|
WordPerfect Office 12 Small Business Edition also introduces an online portal, which Rathwell described as a "work in progress." Currently, you can use the Online Services tab to connect with business advice, content, templates and savings on additional tools and resources from Corel and partners Element K and Lynda.com.
To take advantage of the $179 upgrade price, you need to own a copy of one of the following applications: WordPerfect 8; WordPerfect Suite 8; WordPerfect Office 2000; WordPerfect Office 2002; WordPerfect Office 11; Paradox 8-10; Microsoft Office 97 and Microsoft Office 2000 or higher; Microsoft Works 7 and Microsoft Works Suite 2000 or higher; CorelDRAW 11; CorelDRAW Graphics Suite 11, 12; and Corel Painter 8. (Click here for a full listing of upgrade eligibility.
Not only is WordPerfect Office 12 Small Business Edition about $100 less expensive than Microsoft Office Small Business Edition, but Mehta said Corel and Microsoft have different philosophical approaches to pricing. "We link to the user. Microsoft ties it to the PC they want you to buy a license for every PC in the business. Businesses want high-quality software and they want to use it legally." If you have a notebook PC and desktop PC shared by one person, Mehta said, Corel doesn't expect you to pay for two licenses.
Mehta added that Corel is continuing to work with Dell, HP, Sony, Gateway and other system vendors to offer WordPerfect Office 12 Small Business Edition to new PC buyers. He said, another huge part of Corel's strategy is working with resellers, local stores as well national chains such as Office Depot, Staples and Best Buy.
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