When you launch WordPerfect Office 12.0 Home Edition, the task manager displays a screen full of useful tabs and buttons, leading to individual programs and templates. Unlike the Works interface, the WordPefect Office task manager is actually well designed and easy to use.
WordPerfect 12.0, the word-processing application in Corel's suite, supports the latest Microsoft Word formats and maintains backward compatibility with older versions of WordPerfect, including the DOS-based WordPerfect 5.1. Should formatting errors occur when importing text from Word, the Reveal Code feature--unique to WordPerfect--allows you to see all formatting marks on the page, making it easy to tweak text and the layout.
Quattro Pro 12.0, Corel's spreadsheet app, is also compatible with the latest Microsoft Excel files. In what might prove a stumbling block for some, however, Quattro Pro suffered paroxysms in our tests while attempting to import our Excel charts, unable to reproduce some data files exactly and ultimately distorting our graphical information.
OfficeReady Personal Finance is Corel's collection of templates designed to help you track monthly cash flow and perform other light financial tasks. Unlike Microsoft Works Suite, which includes Microsoft Money Standard Edition 2005, OfficeReady Personal Finance is perhaps too remedial for most accounting uses, even for home use. For tracking household budgets or balancing your checkbooks, you should opt instead for either Intuit Quicken or Money.
Corel's PhotoAlbum and PhotoBook apps are image-editing and image-storage apps, and they're not available as standalone software. The one notable feature found in both is Kai's PowerTools, an old Macintosh photo utility acquired by Corel a few years ago. Kai's PowerTools allows you to morph and otherwise distort any image--perfect for those who want to make their own greeting cards. Corel PhotoBook includes the necessary tools to create slide shows, complete with decorative themes and festive background music. These photo books can then be sent via e-mail to family and friends, who do not need to own a copy of the app in order to view them.
The remainder of WordPerfect Office 12.0 Home Edition is uneven. For example, Encyclopedia Britannica Ready Reference 2005, despite containing an online encyclopedia, a dictionary, and a thesaurus, is but a mere shadow of its print version, and it pales in comparison to the all-digital Microsoft Encarta, which is included within Microsoft Works Suite 2005. Pinnacle's Instant CD/DVD is more or less a trial version, constantly reminding you with a pop-up that you're not running the full-featured version. Similarly, Symantec Norton Internet Security 2005 works fine for the first 90 days, then it stops and asks you to sign up for a $20-per-year subscription to continue protecting your computer. We'd prefer full working editions of both apps in the next version of Home Edition.
Corel's includes free e-mail support with WordPerfect Office 12.0 Home Edition, along with a content-rich online knowledge base. Live toll-free 24/7 technical support costs $25 for the first incident. Additional incidents (up to 10 incidents or 12 months, whichever comes first) require an annual support fee of $149. While these fees are reasonable for live software technical support, Corel's free e-mail support strikes us as the better deal.