In a rare visit to the UK last week, Corel CEO Michael Cowpland set out his vision of the company's future and predicted an end to Wintel dominance.
"Java will break Wintel because suddenly it enables companies to run modern software on their legacy systems," explained Cowpland. "This means savings of $750 billion (u469 billion) worldwide in upgrades that don't need to be done. It's a whole new world."
Corel's Java effort is a key part of the company's growth strategy. Around 15% of the company's research and development activities are now in Java, and rising.Version 8 of Corel's PerfectOffice suite will start shipping from May, and the company's Java version of the suite will be released around the same time. Cowpland envisages that within 18 months the two versions will merge.
Corel's business has been revolutionised since the company bought Novell's WordPerfect unit just over a year ago. Although the firm is still market leader in desktop graphics applications with Corel Draw, the percentage of its business dependent on that sector has dropped remarkably, and the company has grown by 60%. Today, 65% of the company's revenues stem from its PerfectOffice range. Revenues for the last quarter were $90 million, compared with $36 million for the same period last year.
Corel also claims its market share of the office suite arena has risen five-fold in the past year, from 4% to 20%.
"We are one of the only companies to have wrestled market share back from Microsoft," Cowpland declared. "Corporate users in particular are now saying to us that it's great to have an alternative to Microsoft Office.
Nobody likes to be pushed around by a single vendor."
The forthcoming version of the PerfectOffice suite also contains some new functions borrowed from the company's traditional expertise in the graphics market. For instance, users will be able to put the cursor down anywhere on a page and begin typing. The software will automatically calculate the necessary formatting on the fly. Cowpland expects Corel's graphics applications and office productivity ranges will have been merged within the next 18 months.
Since buying Novell's WordPerfect division, Corel has turned its business around. The company is now focussed on its office productivity range, and Java development. In the Java race, Corel is far ahead of Microsoft, and is poised to shatter Gates' grip on the office suite market if and when the NC finally takes off.
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