Corel’s Office competitor gets BI, more PDF

Corel today rolled out WordPerfect X4, a suite designed to remain feature compatible with Microsoft Office while adding more interoperability with Adobe Acrobat. Added to the suite is a new spreadsheet in addition to Quattro Pro.

Among the new features of Corel’s principal office suite, announced today, is a business intelligence (BI)-enabled spreadsheet called Visual Intelligence.

In an interview today with BetaNews, Jason LaRock, director of product management, said that Corel’s overall strategy for its office suite is to keep satisfying its core users — many of whom are in the legal and government markets — while also taking advantage of chances to add to its customer base by adding tools in “adjacent spaces,” including the home market.

While Office X4 offers suite-wide compatibility with both Microsoft Office 2007 (OXML) files and ODF files, Corel is not yet supporting the ribbon interface introduced in Office 2007, according to LaRock.

“You do need to be able to work with [Microsoft] Office. But you don’t need to clone it,” he told BetaNews. “The information we’re getting from the [system] integrators we work with is that it typically takes six weeks for users to learn the [ribbon] interface, and to start being productive with it.”

Will Corel ever support the Office ribbon interface? “I’d never say, ‘Never.’ So far, the ribbon hasn’t been driving the market. But if anyone can drive the market, it’s Microsoft,” according to the product management director.

Meanwhile, he said, even before the new release, Corel also offered some of the new features in Office 2007, anyway, such as the ability to preview fonts in a document. WordPerfect Office X4 will also add full Adobe PDF file import capabilities to a feature set which already included full PDF export.

Corel isn’t trying to compete with Adobe, according to LaRock. “But with all of this talk about OOXML and ODF document standards, there’s already a standard widely in use, and it’s PDF,” he contended.

Although some WordPerfect users export files to Word formats for document collaboration and initial sharing, PDF is a popular format for “finalized documents,” he said. “Once the documents are in PDF, they can’t be red-lined by anyone else, or modified in any other way.”

WordPerfect Office X4 – Standard Edition includes word processing, spreadsheet, slide show, and e-mail applications. From there, Corel offers three other editions: Office X4 – Professional Edition, Office X4 – Home and Student Edition, and Corel Family Pack 2009.

The Home and Student Edition will bundle in new additions that include Visual Intelligence, WordPerfect Lightning for digital note taking, and Corel Connector online services.

“Corporations are spending lots of money on BI tools,” LaRock said, when asked why Corel decided to develop Visual Intelligence. “But there haven’t really been many BI products for end users — at least, there haven’t been many good ones.”

Corel is already offering a “community site” for Lightning, as well as, LaRock told us, plans for a site based around Visual Intelligence.

News source: BETANEWS

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