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Similarities of Word Programs

Richard Price
3 September 1996

Corel's WordPerfect comes as part of Corel's WordPerfect 7 suite of programs, whereas Word for Windows 95 can be bought seperately.

To tell the truth I was not in that much of a hurry to install my new 32-bit version of WordPerfect 7. After all, I have been using Microsoft Word in one version or the other ever since it first came out, and Microsoft Word 7 now takes up a sizable chunk of my hard disk space. I really didn't see the point of another "bigger then Ben Hur" word processing package on my system.

Installation from CD-Rom was painless, although on my original single speed CD-rom drive it was understandably slow.

These two programs are so similar though, there is almost no point in trying to compare them feature by feature. It was difficult enough trying to find some interesting distinguishing characteristic between the programs. The most obvious difference is the blue margins that appear on the WordPerfect page. These can be changed by simply dragging them to a new position and give WordPerfect more of a desktop publishing feel.

Users of the pre Corel version of WordPerfect would be quite familiar with the program layout. From what I can make out it hasn't changed very much.

Inserting graphics is lot easier in WordPerfect. In Microsoft Word, if you want to be able to move an inserted graphic around, you have to first create a frame and then insert the image. Not so with WordPerfect. Just insert the image and you can move it around anywhere you want. Not only that, but right clicking on the image brings up a comprehensive edit menu. This menu allows you to, amongst other things, add a caption to the image or attach it to a certain page, paragraph or character. Getting text to wrap around the graphic is also only a mouse click away.

The font menu in WordPerfect shows you a sample of what the selected font looks like. Handy if you have a comprehensive set of installed typefaces.

The most striking feature about these two programs though is their similarity. WordPerfect comes with Internet Publisher, while Microsoft Word users get Internet Assistant to help them create web documents. WordPerfect has QuickCorrect and Word for Windows has AutoCorrect to correct spelling as you type. Microsoft has WordArt for creating special effects with text. WordPerfect uses TextArt to produce similar results. Even the manuals have that similar graphical, easier to understand look. Microsoft has the Answer Wizard while WordPerfect relies on the PerfectExpert to let you type in questions in your own words.

I asked WordPerfect's PerfectExpert how to bold text. Unfortunately the window that displays the options is a bit small and the text does not wrap onto the next line, so you can't read it all.

It was at this point I started getting this creepy feeling that programmers are probably spending more time thinking up catchy names to differentiate their features than anything else. Both Word for Windows 95 and WordPerfect have comprehensive on-line help. PerfectExpert will even perform the task for you or give you a guided demonstration.

Microsoft's Answer Wizard performs a similar function, but usually with out warning. One minute you are asking a question and the next thing menus are being opened and selections highlighted as if you machine is possessed.

One thing WordPerfect has which Microsoft Word doesn't is a grey, shadow cursor as well as the black one. This moves around the screen with the mouse pointer and helps you see where you are about to position the cursor. Useful, but remember to click the mouse otherwise the real cursor stays where it is.

Unfortunately WordPerfect seems to have forgotten the standard convention for representing centimetres or millimetres. Choosing the format paragraph option, I was surprised to see I could indent text by 1m on an A4 page.

Getting a word count is still awkward no matter what program you use. The position of the cursor is always displayed in great detail at the bottom of the screen. Why can't the word count be displayed as well? At least Microsoft Word has a word count option in the Tools menu so it is only 2 mouse clicks away.

Both programs come with the usual plethora of extras. Corel includes Dashboard 95, Envoy 7 and Sidekick with the WordPerfect Suite. You can't print out the pages directly from the WordPerfect address book though. Then again, I am still trying to figure out how to print a version of my Word for Windows 95 address book to fit my filofax. Again, the address books work pretty much the same. Both give you the option of dialling numbers. Although with WordPerfect you can store an email address as well. Does this mean it is only a matter of time before you can send and receive email messages via your word processor?

Jumping on the Internet bandwagon, WordPerfect 7 comes with full connectivity to the net. Clicking the browse the web button in WordPerfect 7 for the first time launches your web browser. Of course it also overrides your selected preferences and takes you straight to the Corel home page.

Using WordPerfect's Internet Publisher, you can either select a template to create a new web document, format the open document as a web document, save a current copy of the open document in HTML format ready to publish on the net or just browse the web. It is even possible to embed URL links to other web sites in your WordPerfect documents.

Microsoft's Internet Assistant is only available as an add-on, and can be downloaded from Microsoft's home page. Once downloaded installation is a breeze and it offers similar features to Internet Publisher. Rather than open your web browser, Internet Assistant allows you to browse the web from within Word. Unfortunately it has not worked for me yet. I suspect it might have something to do with the fact that I am connecting to the Internet with Trumpet Winsock 2.0.

It is not going to be a knock out fight between these two word processing heavyweights. Although, WordPerfect does have one thing in its favour though. The people at Corel sure know how to bundle software. Not only do you get an extremely robust program but the 10,000 clipart images and 150 fonts thrown in create the feeling you have just bought a bargain.




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