Corel previewed the latest version of its WordPerfect Office suite at Comdex last week and stated that a free version would be available to non-commercial Linux users.
Corel has renamed the suite WordPerfect Office 2000, although the individual components will still be given the version number 9. Word-Perfect Office 2000 will offer compatibility with Microsoft Office file formats and share many of the new features announced for Microsoft Office 2000.
Corel insisted, however, that its goal was not to compete feature-for-feature with Office 2000, but to make everyday tasks easier and to improve the ease of use of the existing feature set.
Linux users have already been promised a free version of the WordPerfect 8 word processor, called Personal Edition, which will be available soon for download from Corel's Web site. But at Comdex, Michael Cowpland, Corel's CEO, said that the same would apply to the entire WordPerfect 8 suite when it is launched at the end of the year.
Business customers will have to pay for the software on CD, however, although the price is likely to be around #30 per seat. Cowpland likened this strategy to that of Linux distributors such as Red Hat Software, SuSE and Caldera, which offer software free from their Web sites, but also sell it bundled with application software and utilities for a nominal fee. Cowpland denied that Corel would also give away the source code for WordPerfect.
WordPerfect Office 2000 will be available in the second quarter of 1999 and the Linux version will probably be released later in the year. Corel is still deciding whether or not to continue supporting the Macintosh platform in the next release.
Pricing for the product has not yet been announced.
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