On Dec. 15, 2003 an Ontario Securities Commission panel accepted a proposed $575,000 fine to settle insider-trading charges leveled against Corel's ousted founder Michael Cowpland this ended four years or corporate turmoil for the Ottawa-based software maker.
In a move designed to strengthen the business, Corel named Derek Burney as the company's chairman on Nov. 24, 2003. He joined Corel's interim CEO Amish Mehta, a principal at Vector Capital and the man responsible for Vector Capital's acquisition of Corel, to bring the company back from the brink of fiscal disaster. Together, the two have made tough business decisions layoffs and streamlining product offerings necessary to turn the company around.
Mac Won't Be Back
In July 2002 CorelDRAW 11 made its debut at MacWorld. Maybe it was a last ditch effort to lure Mac users away from other popular graphics programs. It didn't work. In December 2003, with little fanfare, Corel announced that a Mac version of CorelDRAW 12 would not be produced.
Corel is, however, putting the finishing touches on the Windows edition of its popular graphics suite. CorelDRAW 12 should be ready to hit the market mid-February. Leaving Mac users stuck on version 11 is of small consequence to Corel, since 96 percent of its customers are Windows users.
Jessica Gould, Corel senior communications manager, said the company has been working hard to understand its customers' wants, needs and desires at least when it comes to Windows-based graphics software.
"We've focused on getting to know our customer inside and out who they are, where they work, and what they do CorelDRAW Graphics Suite 12 specifically meets the needs of our customers, many of them small businesses doing their graphics in-house."
Counting on Customers
What's the result of the company's extensive customer research? Gould said Corel has built CorelDRAW Graphics Suite 12 around four pillars of strength.
"We've made the program easier to use with more intelligent tools and time-saving enhancements that reduce the number of mouse-clicks it takes to complete design tasks," Gould explained. "We're also playing nice with other programs. We've improved our compatibility with Microsoft Office and WordPerfect, and built a comprehensive graphics suite that offers small businesses an outstanding value."
Gould said CorelDRAW 12 is an ideal graphics suite for business users, who are not necessarily professionally trained graphic artists.
"CorelDRAW is popular among small office and home office users, small enterprises, and business generalists in large enterprises," Gould said. "We have to make the program easy to use for designing logos, flyers and newsletters, as well as professional presentations, brochures and reports."
There are three core programs that make up the graphics suite; these include CorelDRAW 12, Corel PHOTO-PAINT, and Corel R.A.V.E. 3. CorelDRAW is an illustration and page layout application that provides design capabilities for a range of print and Web publications. Corel PHOTO-PAINT is a digital imaging tool that allows users to brush up photographs for use in business publications.
Corel R.A.V.E. adds interactive Flash animation to Web designs and presentations. With it, users can import various file formats and transform them into dynamic, animations. R.A.V.E. files can also be exported to Macromedia Flash, animated GIF, Windows AVI and QuickTime movie files.
In addition to its more animated conversion capabilities, CorelDRAW is capable of working with Microsoft Office, Scalable Vector Graphics, AutoCAD, and HPGL, as well as Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and PDF files. CorelDRAW is an import/export powerhouse, which is part of the graphic suites appeal to smaller businesses.
New to CorelDRAW 12 are timesaving tools, such as shape recognition programming and snap-to guides. No matter how poorly the doodle, CorelDRAW recognizes native shapes and smartly smoothes out curves when drawing. This is just one way that users can save time when preparing marketing materials.
Also new are dynamic guides that help layout objects precisely where users want them the first time. Dynamic guides snap objects into place and allow users to modify one objects relationship with another throughout the design.
CorelDRAW 12 has been optimized for Windows XP, which means the user interface appears familiar, even for new users. If your small business works in a global environment, CorelDRAW can handle Unicode text, making a broader range of language characters available to users, including Czech, Polish, Asian and German.
The graphics suite comes with a training tool that takes about two hours for new users to complete. Gould said most current users would have no problem adapting to the new and improved program.
"We've kept most of the familiar tools in about the same place but improved the ease of use in each program," Gould said. "About half of our customers get every other upgrade. So it's important for us to stay familiar-looking to our loyal users, but sill improve upon the programming."
CorelDRAW Graphics Suite 12 works with Windows 2000, XP or Tablet PC systems operating with a Pentium II, 200 MHz or faster processor. An upgrade to the newest suite costs $179 and the full software suite will retail for $399. The software will begin shipping mid-February right around the time we'll provide you with a complete review of CorelDRAW 12.
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