WordPerfect Office X6 Professional Edition Review
by: Howard Carson, September 2012
Requires: A PC desktop or laptop computer running any version of Microsoft Windows XP or later, 10GB of free hard drive space, 4GB of RAM
MSRP: US$99.99 (Home & Student edition), 249.99 (Standard edition), $399.00 (Professional edition)
In all of the discussions of office productivity software, the predominant subject is usually Microsoft Office. Frankly, Office was not always the king of the mountain. Back in the days when the computer word processor and spreadsheet were the sole kings of office productivity, five products ruled for many years: WordPerfect, Lotus 123, Quattro Pro, WordStar, and Microsoft Word bringing up the rear. Microsoft Word and Excel didn't earn any traction until Microsoft got them out of DOS and into Windows 3.11. WordStar hiccuped and died, Lotus 123 went business-only, and WordPerfect and Borland's Quattro Pro struggled to find a place outside lawyers offices and medium sized businesses. By February 1996, Corel had picked up all the WordPerfect and Quattro Pro pieces from Novell, and then began the long process of regaining consumer trust in a product that had languished for years without a major change except operating system compatibility updates. Corel then also decided that WordPerfect and Quattro Pro would form the foundation of a new, full featured office suite at a time when Microsoft Office ruled over all. Times have changed though, and while Microsoft Office and its online version, Office 365, still rule the roost, WordPerfect Office X6 in all its heavy-duty glory has grown up to challenge the big kahuna.
WordPerfect Office X6 consists of 16 core products including WordPerfect X6 word processor, Quattro Pro X6 spreadsheet program, Presentations X6 slideshow creator, Corel WordPerfect Lightning digital notebook, Paradox database management system, WordPerfect OfficeReady pre-made templates, Mozilla Firefox web browser, Nuance PaperPort 12 SE PDF manager, Mozilla Thunderbird integrated email, BrainStorm training videos, Corel PDF Fusion PDF creator (new for X6), WinZip file compression utility (new for X6), WinZip Courier email compression utility (new for X6), ZipSend file sharing web service (new for X6), VideoStudio Essentials video editor (new for X6), and WordPerfect eBook Publisher (also new for X6). WinZip has been a Corel company for several years. Corel has also obviously formed some strategic partnerships with Mozilla and Nuance.
"Sure, lots of stuff in the box," you say, "but what does it all mean?" What it means is that WordPerfect Office X6 is designed with all of the components needed to productively operate almost any home, home-office or business which doesn't require proprietary software, and to integrate well into businesses that do make use of proprietary software to augment them with a usable and versatile office suite.
We'd need something like 30 pages of text to list each and every feature in any full-featured office software suite, so I'll just hit the highlights:
- Microsoft Office Compatibility - I know, I know, in a review of WordPerfect Office X6, the first important feature I mention is compatibility with all versions of Microsoft Office DOC & DOCX, XLS & XLSX, PPT and PPTX files, but it's important
- Support for over 60 File Formats - A good office suite can load all the ten or eleven commonest files and formats, but a great office suite can load and edit them all including Open Document Format (ODF)
- Corel PDF Core Fusion - It's a full featured PDF editor, creator and printer driver for converting documents, presentations and spreadsheets to PDF, reading PDF files of all kinds, editing PDF files of all kinds, and just generally fully integrating PDF handling into all of the main suite programs
- Multi-Monitor Support - The suite is designed to be able to sense the presence of multiple monitors, sort out and help keep track of which programs appear in which monitors, open multiple files across multiple monitors, and edit a document of any kind on one monitor and let someone else view it instantly on another monitor
- Intuitively Usable Interface - No Metro UI here, Corel has stuck steadfastly to a more traditional and broadly familiar user interface in which you'll find logically grouped tools and commands under a recognizable menu bar
- Productive Word Processing - Back in the day, Microsoft Word was never better than WordPerfect when it came to straight up writing, document editing, correspondence, newsletters, mailings and all the things a busy office, student (at any level), home user, home-office user, business user, researcher or pure writer wants to do, and while Word has led the race for many years, WordPerfect is back in the hunt
- Full integration between WordPerfect and Paradox for mail merge - This standard office, customer, membership, subscriber and mass mailing functionality works well
- Quattro Pro Lives - For all of you who thought Microsoft Excel is the only spreadsheet software in the world, know that Quattro Pro has been around for just as long, is just as easy to use, just as powerful, and just as reliable
- Presentations the PowerPoint Enemy - The Presentation slideshow program is every bit as powerful as PowerPoint for the creation of anything from straightforward, unadorned, featureless slideshows up to the most complicated, web-connected, database-connected, spreadsheet-connected, musical, singing, dancing and animated monstrosities (and please don't do that)
- WordPerfect eBook Publisher - You should care about this because lots of your friends, your kids, the friends of your kids, and people in your business and at work are carrying around documents, PDF and ebooks created or converted themselves for easy reading on smartphones, ebook readers (Kindle, Kobo, Nook, Sony Reader, CyBook, etc.) and tablets (iPad, Samsung Galaxy Tab, Kindle Fire, Asus Nexus, etc.), not to mention serious writers who want to publish fully formatted (with table of contents, chapters, photos, graphics, etc.) research, books and other documents in ebook formats
- Video Editing - In an admittedly belated concession to the prevalence of digital video online and offline, the VideoStudio product easily handles just about any video footage you can capture from camcorders, digital SLR video cameras, professional video cameras, smartphones and so on, and it's about time this component was included in the suite because it has been six years since Corel picked up ULead VideoStudio as part of its acquisition of InterVideo in 2006
- Email Integration (sort of) - Mozilla Thunderbird is a terrifically powerful and easy to use email program, so Outlook haters (but needful users nonetheless) will be happy, unless of course your email is handled by Microsoft Exchange running on your server (to which Thunderbird access remains problematic, but at least better than it used to be), but for home, home-office and small business users Thunderbird should work beautifully
- Sharepoint Integration - If you don't know what Microsoft Sharepoint is, then this doesn't concern you, but it's very good news indeed for anyone who prefers WordPerfect Office but also has to interact with Sharepoint to share data and information, find data and information or collaborate on projects, documents and so on
- Advanced Privacy and Security Control - You can completely strip every vestige of metadata (file creator, creation dates, project information, etc., etc., etc.,) from any document you've created or edited in WordPerfect Office X6
- Copy Fitting - If you're ever created a report, letter (or correspondence of any significant kind) or story or document that was, e.g., half a page too long, and then had to give up trying to shorten the thing, the Make It Fit utility can sometimes work magic without screwing things up
- Reveal Codes (true nerd-vana) - One of WordPerfect's best known features from the old days (the '80s & early '90s in particular) was the ability to manipulate reveal codes, the normally hidden code symbols which are used by the software to indicate format (line breaks, paragraph breaks, tabs, page end, page break, lists, etc., etc., etc.), and the latest version of WordPerfect doesn't disappoint so you can use 'em if you like 'em or like most sane people keep them hidden
- Dynamic Data and Web Services Integration - You can add data links to any major document which automatically update as soon as the document is opened for viewing or editing on a system or viewer that has an Internet connection, which makes it easy to include accurate pricing, accurate locations, up-to-the-minute stock values, and so on in any WordPerfect, Quattro Pro or Presentation document
- BrainStorm Training Videos - Corel has spent some money for the production of a large selection of instructional videos, and it looks to us like there's plenty for everyone from complete newbies to advanced users
Those are the features that stand out for me. There are a hundred more major features and thousands of smaller ones, and I urge you not to ignore WordPerfect Office X6 if your own must-have feature isn't on my list. It's most likely in WordPerfect Office X6 somewhere.
Since its more substantial implementation in WordPerfect Office X5 a few years ago, the inclusion of calendering (appointments, meeting notices, etc.), cross-platform email access (gmail and Outlook in particular) and address book access (from gmail, Outlook and of course Thunderbird - for simple search & retrieval, and for mail merge) has improved apace with Mozilla's progress on Thunderbird. It works well, and Thunderbird is very good by almost any measure, but this part of the WordPerfect Office X6 suite does not offer the seamless integration of Outlook within Microsoft Office. It's likely far more than enough for the vast majority of home, student, home-office and small business users, and you should be happy with it. Enterprise users should think twice though.
Whatever you've been using prior to WordPerfect Office X6 - Microsoft Office, OpenOffice.org, Google Apps for Business, Microsoft Works, LibreOffice, ThinkFree, or ZOHO Office, you'll find yourself in a familiar or at least recognizable environment. These office productivity suites are all of a piece, even Microsoft Office 2007, 2010 and 2013 with the productivity-slowing Ribbon interface (which many Word users turned off in favor of the perfectly good and familiar menu bar as soon as the Turn Off Ribbon option appeared in Word 2011) and which established in the late '90s and 2000's all the expectations about what an office suite has to contain. So the File menu is where it should be, as is everything else. Think of something to do, write, create, edit, produce, analyze or just view - WordPerfect Office X6 can handle it.
WordPerfect Lightning Digital Notebook is a very basic sort of EverNote or Microsoft OneNote utility. WordPerfect Lightning is an on-the-fly storehouse - a project item storage box if you like - for typing notes, storing URLs, photos and ideas. I like these sorts of utilities and this one from Corel works well, although it offers only basic functionality. Use it to collect different elements such as notes, shortcuts to information, statistics, data, images and web resources as you start, create and complete important correspondence, books, projects and presentations. You can copy & paste lots of different things into a Lightning note, give the note a project name and keep things organized. I use OneNote and Evernote on a regular basis, and while Lightning is a much smaller utility it's still very useful for supporting a wide variety of tasks, projects and research.
WordPerfect remains a wonderful word processor. WordPerfect Mail (why does Corel continue to largely ignore development of this component?) is a rudimentary connector which doesn't seem to want to send word processor or spreadsheet documents in the body of any email - attachments only. Quattro Pro remains a wonderful spreadsheet program. Anything you can do in Google Docs, Microsoft Word or any other word processor or spreadsheet software on the market today can be done just as easily, accurately and quickly in WordPerfect and Quattro Pro. Presentation can be used to create precisely the same sort of awful, noisy, gaudy, audio laden, irritatingly animated, slide transition-overloaded messes that over-enthusiastic PowerPoint presentation makers regularly create. Of course Presentation can also be used to create well thought out, clearly and instructively designed, professional presentations too (as can PowerPoint). The Paradox database program lags behind Microsoft Access in a couple of important areas.
At $99.99 for the Home & Student Edition which includes WordPerfect, Quattro Pro, Presentations and WordPerfect Lightning digital notebook, you also get 900+ TrueType fonts, 10,000+ clipart images, 300+ templates, 175+ digital stock photos, The Electronic Pocket Oxford Dictionary, WordPerfect Address Book, WordPerfect OfficeReady template browser, Presentations Graphics bitmap editor and drawing application, WordPerfect XML Project Designer, a batch conversion utility to convert Microsoft Word documents to WordPerfect documents, and built-in BrainStorm training videos. It's an excellent value.
The WordPerfect Office X6 Standard Edition at $249.99, competes head-to-head with Microsoft Office 2010 Home & Business at $249 as well. The WordPerfect Office X6 Professional Edition at $399.99, competes head-to-head with Microsoft Office 2010 Professional at $469.00. Call them all good values.
Cons: If you're a mainly conventional office suite user, you won't care at all about this, but the biggest absence in WordPerfect Office X6 (compared to the competition) is any sort of integrated online/cloud document storage, control, sharing and editing component as there is with Microsoft Office 2010, 2013 and Office 365, Google Apps for Business, ThinkFree and Zoho. Obviously, you can use Google Docs or Google Drive, ThinkFree or Zoho to upload, download and share any Microsoft Office-compatible document, so if you're using WordPerfect Office X6 you can save files in Microsoft formats in order to do broadly compatible sharing and editing online. It's a bit clumsy, but exemplifies how far Corel and other office productivity software makers have to go to compete head-to-head in the home or business office with Microsoft and Google.
As much as I like Lightning, it is unfortunately not fully object-oriented, so you can't right click on something in Windows (e.g., a shortcut link) and use Send To to transfer it directly to an open note, you can't drag & drop anything into a note, and you can't search any of your notes. The absence of search and drag & drop in Lightning are typical of the things that Corel needs to address if it is ever going to again position WordPerfect Office at or near the top of the heap. Corel needs to also address the absence of a fully integrated, network-aware calendering, email, journal and scheduling product in the suite. The inclusion and rudimentary integration of Thunderbird is no small thing - Thunderbird is an excellent email program - but Outlook gets the win here in any office suite comparison, and it's the most important area in which WordPerfect Office X6 really falls down.
Some basic problems remain from previous versions (e.g., X5). Most annoyingly, screen redraws of the spell check dialog box, Grammatik grammar checker, thesaurus and the Oxford dictionary dialog boxes are still creepingly slow. Drag one of those dialog boxes using the mouse and its reposition outline takes at least a couple of seconds to relocate the actual dialog box. The default size is the full width of the word processor window, and repeated double-clicks on the dialog title bar are required to force it to resize to a normal and usable dimension. The smaller size isn't always remembered by WordPerfect. Fix this please.
Pros: WordPerfect X6, Quattro Pro X6, Presentations X6 and WordPerfect eBook Publisher are superb products which either rival or exceed anything on the market today. Corel has slowly over the years wrestled these particular Office X6 components into very good shape and their operation is fast, stable and offers the sort of power you'll only find in one other place - Microsoft Office. That said, the choice of WordPerfect Office X6 may have more to do with its user interface, I think, than any particular feature or function (although, for really huge and text-heavy research documents and other massive productions, WordPerfect is still a powerhouse). The traditional menu bar is a relief to anyone who continues to struggle with Microsoft's ribbon interface (and I'll bet there are millions and millions of you out there). The Corel Web Board online user forums are busy and an excellent I-need-an-answer-right-now source of support. For native WordPerfect files you can find a very good, free Corel viewer for iPhone and iPad in the Apple App store, and a free Android viewer in the Google App store. WordPerfect, true to its former supremacy in law offices, still has the best Bates numbering functionality. The majority of the free BrainStorm training videos are of immense help and well done. With extremely broad compatibility with all document formats including the latest from Microsoft and plenty of formats that you've never even heard of, WordPerfect Office X6 won't let you down when it comes to receiving, viewing, exchanging and editing documents of all kinds. For all you home, home-office, student and small business office suite users, the only thing that might be missing is Outlook, but then Outlook has never been included in the Microsoft Home & Student Edition either (until Office 2013 that is). If you are in the process of deciding on your next office suite upgrade, WordPerfect Office X6 may be the perfect choice. Recommended.