Recently, my colleagues and I discussed the story of word processors (this is exactly what we do here), and some of them reminded me of using one called WordPerfect many, many years ago. Given that its heyday was in the eighties, I had not heard much about it, so I googled it for fun. And that was when I discovered that it is still sold as a productivity suite. Also, this is not one of those cases where a company still charges money for what is essentially abandonware – the latest version is WordPerfect 2021. Like a year ago. And that’s it for sale.
Corel, the company that has been responsible for WordPerfect ever since before I was bornruns a (terribly modern) Black Friday campaign in July, which ends at 09.00 ET on Thursday. WordPerfect Office Home and Student, which includes the self-titled word processing software, as well as apps for making slide shows, spreadsheets and taking notes, is priced down to $ 59.99 from $ 100. And that Standard and Professional versions, which include additional software and features, are a discount of as much as $ 100 and $ 200 respectively.
So just to summarize here: this software – one of the most common word processors before graphical user interfaces were widespread – still exists, and the company behind it apparently thinks it’s something new users are interested in embracing. All I can say is wow.
To be clear, I’m sure there is some sort niche use cases which people really love WordPerfect for, and that I will hear from pretty much everyone who still uses it why it is actually the best word processing software available. (And I welcome that feedback! I’m fascinated to learn what you do with it.) But I would also assume that anyone who needs WordPerfect for whatever they do … already has it, which means they will not get it. much of a sale.
I do not mean to beat WordPerfect, but I’m not really sure I would recommend it to most people. If you are already willing to spend money on a productivity suite, you would almost certainly be much better served by just going with the Office apps you get through Microsoft 365, which is basically the standard, for better or worse. If you hate paying for software subscriptions, Microsoft even sells a perpetual license for Office 2021. And if you’re looking for WordPerfect as a cheaper option, why not just go all the way to free software – LibreOffice is a solid and completely free productivity suite for those who demand to have a full set of features available offline, and Google Docs is perfectly okay for most people who just want to write a few documents and do not have to worry about saving or sharing them.
With all this said, I am very happy to hear that WordPerfect is still there. It’s not often you hear about apps that have been around for over 40 years, especially those that are not the best dog in their category. Does it look like its age? Sure, I guess – WordPerfect 2021 obviously does not use the same user interface as it did in OS / 2 or Amiga days, but it reminds me of one pulp in the early 2000s when I first learned to use a computer. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Not all apps are made better by a flashy, modern user interface or cloud integration.
One last note: if you want the most authentic retro word processing experience, you can even order WordPerfect on a counter. Yes, Corel is sending a DVD with its Productivity Suite for 2021 on. As someone who understands the value of time far, far away from the internet, I really appreciate this as an option – and as someone whose computers are all less than five or six years old and therefore do not have any kind of hard drive, I wish it came on a flash drive. Or 5.25-inch floppy disks, as some of the DOS versions did. Given that the Home and Student edition requires about 2.75 GB of space, it would only take about 2,300 high-density disks (read: 1.2 MB).
PS – to answer the question one of my colleagues asked when I discovered WordPerfect 2021: no, you no longer have to press the enter key as a carriage return at the end of each line to make sure the text does not just run off the screen. How far we have come!
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