WordPerfect for Windows. (word-processing software) (Software Review) (Evaluation)
by William D. Harrel
We waited and we waited--a year past the originally announced release date. It seemed to the loyal majority that WordPerfect for Windows (WPWin) would never come. Well, it's finally here. Now the question is: Was it worth the wait?
WordPerfect promised that its new GUI word processor would be completely compatible with the immensely popular WordPerfect for DOS (WPDOS). It's always refreshing when a software maker lives up to its claims. WPWin lets you work with the same file formats and editing procedures that WPDOS users have come to know and trust. Documents created in the DOS version print exactly the same in WPWin.
Making the transition even less painful is an option offered during installation (and any time thereafter) to choose either a Windows or a WPDOS keyboard layout. In other words, if you're used to pressing Home-down arrow to move to the bottom of a document or Shift-F6 to center a paragraph, you won't have to change the way you work. Users who are new to WordPerfect and prefer the standard Windows Common User Access (CUA) keyboard may simply opt for it during installation--or any other time. In fact (WordPerfect power users take note), WPWin maintains the powerful multiple keyboard and keyboard-mapping features of the DOS version. If you do many different kinds of writing, you can use WordPerfect for Windows to create a keyboard, complete with macros and special characters for each type.
Compatibility between the old and the new is maintained to the point that both versions can use not only the same keyboard files but also spelling and thesaurus files, style sheets, and even the advanced printer drivers found in WPDOS. About the only thing you cannot bring with you from DOS is your more sophisticated macros. Simple ones can be converted with an included conversion utility, but you'll probably have to rewrite most macros.
But what does running in Windows do to improve WordPerfect? Well, with the graphic interface you have WYSIWYG--the ability to see font and formatting changes as you make them. Graphics can be placed and resized with your mouse. Tabs, columns, and tables can be adjusted by dragging markers or clicking on icons on a slick new ruler. You can work on nine documents at a time and create links between spreadsheets and graphics files with Windows' Dynamic Data Exchange (DDE).
Other advantages include choosing from file lists during merges rather than having to remember filenames, extensive control over how the program is displayed on your monitor, and the option of running both the spelling checker and thesaurus any time during a Windows session--even when WPWin is not open. But the hottest new feature is the Button Bar.
The Button Bar, which can be placed almost anywhere in the document window, is a completely programmable group of icons. Any command or macro can be assigned to it. And, in keeping with WordPerfect's multiple keyboards, you can create as many Button Bars as you need.
Yet another slick feature is WPWin's file-handling ability. Not only do the Open and Save As dialog boxes give you extensive control (moving, renaming, deleting, and viewing) over computer files, but the program is also shipped with File Manage--a stand-alone program much more adept at handling files than Windows' rickety file-management utility with the same name.
As with everything in life, all this versatility comes with tradeoffs--in this case, a rather high price. You also sacrifice speed. Compared to character-based programs, Windows word processors are notoriously slow. Of the three most popular--Ami Pro, Word for Windows, and WordPerfect for Windows-WPWin seems to be the slowest.
If you're used to the lightning-fast DOS version, prepare to mellow out, no matter how fast your computer. If you don't have a relatively fast computer (at least a 286) with 2MB of RAM, prepare to upgrade before running this product. This is the minimum system requirement. This review was done on a 386 with 8MB of RAM and a fast graphics card, however, and there were times when WPWin's sluggishness was annoying.
Aside from the speed considerations, finally getting to use WordPerfect for Windows was well worth the wait. Once you try it, you can delete yet another lackluster DOS application from your hard drive.
IBM PC and compatibles (80286 or faster), 2MB RAM, EGA or VGA, Windows 3.0-$495
WORDPERFECT 1555 N. Technology Way Orem, UT 84057 (800) 451-5151
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