Overall, WordPerfect Office X3 is a solid upgrade for longtime users, particularly those who manage a lot of PDFs. Die-hard Microsoft fans may want to wait to see what Redmond has up its sleeve with the radical changes expected within the upcoming Microsoft Office 12. At the same time, current users of Microsoft Office 2003 who don't want to deal with the potentially steep learning curve in store for Office 12 may prefer to try the more familiar interface and improved tools within Corel's suite.We tested WordPerfect Office X3 Standard Edition, which includes WordPerfect, Quattro Pro (a spreadsheet maker), Presentations, and WordPerfect Mail. The Standard Edition ships on three CDs, but only the first CD, with the three core apps, is essential. The second disc includes clip art, photos, fonts, and manuals, as well as Adobe Acrobat Reader 7 and Microsoft Internet Explorer 6. The third CD features free third-party Office X3 training videos.
Setup proceeded smoothly and took about 30 minutes in our tests. Installing new versions of WordPerfect, Quattro Pro, and Presentations, as well as an update of WordPerfect Mail (which was already on our test PC), took 800MB of hard disk space.
WordPerfect Office X3 enjoys a much-needed face-lift. Its applications sport a jazzier look that mirrors the motif of Windows XP and gives better detail and color to icons--not an accident. By minimizing the differences between the Corel and Microsoft productivity suites, Corel hopes to reduce the training time for converts from Microsoft Office. Two nifty carryover features from WordPerfect Office 12 nicely illustrate this point. For instance, the Compatibility Toolbar lets you convert documents to Excel, PowerPoint, or Word formats (as well as HTML, PDF, or XML) with a single click. Next, the Workspace Manager pop-up menu allows you to choose Microsoft or WordPerfect keystrokes, menus, and toolbars for each application in the Corel suite.Corel WordPerfect Office X3 comes in five versions: the $399 Professional, the $349 Small Business, the $299 Standard, the $99 Student & Teacher, and the $79 Home. All flavors include the WordPerfect word processor and Quattro Pro spreadsheet application, while WordPerfect Mail comes with only the Standard and Small Business editions. (The other versions get a trial edition.) Home lacks Presentations, while a powerful Paradox database is bundled within the Professional and Student & Teacher editions.
Across the board, WordPerfect Office X3 is more affordable than Microsoft Office 2003. For instance, WordPerfect X3 Standard, which includes the three core apps and WordPerfect Mail, costs $100 less than Microsoft Office 2003 Standard with its Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook. And the Corel WordPerfect X3 Student & Teacher edition costs $50 less than its Microsoft competitor.