Corel Corp. has not shipped a new office suite for a couple of years, so the buzz is high about the imminent release of WordPerfect Office 2000. I tried out the second beta version. Corel representatives as-sured me most of the features are final and little will change be-tween now and the product’s release. Corel has put a lot of software into a small package. The entire suite takes up a little more than 250M. That includes a word processor, presentation program, spreadsheet, relational database manager and supporting applications. I have been using WordPerfect 8 word processor practically since the day it came out, and WordPerfect 9 looks and acts much the same. Thankfully, it is compatible with all preceding versions for Microsoft Windows. You can load an old WordPerfect document into Version 9, or save a document in Version 9 and load it on another PC running Version 6 or 7. You can even save in the old Version 5 format, although that requires a selection from the Save menu. The word processor acts as a pretty good HTML editor, much like Microsoft Notepad but with nice extras such as a spell-checker. You can change the view to a Web page look, which is extremely useful for Web design. Documents saved as straight HTML have no bulky hidden codes except for the metatag “Generator = Corel WordPerfect 9.” I was pleased that Corel has continued support for the Reveal Codes function. Turning it on shows text formatting—a huge help when highlights stubbornly appear in the wrong places. A split window at the bottom of the screen reveals the codes. As you change them in the window, they also change in your document. No other word processor that I have used gives the user so much control. The suite’s Quattro Pro 9 spreadsheet application differs hardly at all from previous incarnations. Again, the emphasis is on Web use. Databases, forms, lists, charts and reports can all be saved in HTML for uploading to the Web or opening with a browser. The suite’s CorelCentral 9 personal information manager and scheduling program seems intrusive. I’m old-fashioned, I prefer tracking my appointments with pencil and paper. The PIM’s scheduling interface got in my way. But if you rely on an electronic device to chart your time, CorelCentral 9 is efficient enough to serve that purpose. The best support program was Ask the PerfectExpert, one of the best help programs I’ve seen in a suite. You type questions in plain language and get intelligent answers. For example, “How do I create a resume with this software?” resulted in not just an answer but a step-by-step walk-through. I found Corel Presentations 9, which finally seems to be on par with Microsoft PowerPoint, a stronger suite component than the PIM. The slide show tool was easy to use, and I could design presentations almost from the get-go. Taken as a whole, this near-final version of WordPerfect Office 2000 has well-integrated old favorites enhanced by new work-to-Web interfaces. The suite will likely become a welcome addition to many government desktop PCs. Source.