What does Corel’s purchase of Novell’s applications business mean for Web users?

First published in the Solicitors Journal, February 1996.

News of the month in the desktop applications market has been the purchase at the end of January of Novell’s applications business by the Ottawa corporation Corel in a $180 million deal. Corel, best known for its market-.eading drawing package, Corel Draw, and the Ventura desktop publishing program, has purchased all rights to WordPerfect for Windows, DOS, Mac and Unix; Quattro Pro for Windows and DOS; Presentations for Windows and DOS; InfoCentral; and other related products and technologies. Novell will keep GroupWise, but will license the GroupWise client to Corel. Corel is also licensed to include in its products Envoy, the QuickFinder text search engine, linguistics technology, and other technologies.

There are still many questions to be answered about the initial transition and Corel’s plans for the future. Having dominated the PC word processor market, no more so than in the legal sector, Novell lost much ground to Microsoft Word in the Windows arena, with a poor initial release of WordPerfect for Windows and an infer Office package, both understandably delivered later than Microsoft’s offerings. So, Corel has much ground to make up. But what does it have in store for Web users, in particular?

PerfectOffice 7, the 32-bit version of the Office suite is now beta testing and should be available for Windows 95 in April. Office 7 includes an Internet publishing version of WordPerfect, Netscape’s Navigator Web browser, and links to Web pages from the Quattro Pro spreadsheet and from the Presentations slideshow package.

For serious Web designers Corel’s own development program has produced, also for a second quarter release, a range of new Web authoring tools in the CorelWeb.Suite: CorelWeb.Designer, CorelWeb.Doc, CorelWeb.Gallery, and CorelWeb.Data.

With Microsoft controlling a staggering 80 per cent of the office suite market, Corel has its work cut out to regain anything like WordPerfect’s former pre-eminence in the DOS word, processor. Clearly, Corel sees its Net features as a key marketing advantage. The Internet will not be controlled by Microsoft, and Corel believes it will be six months ahead of the giant with Internet features in its desktop applications.

Information about Corel and its product range, including the latest statements and information about the transition from Novell and a Perfect Office discussion area, will be found on the CorelNET Website.

Bill signs the Bill

Across the pond, President Clinton (or ‘prez’ for short) signed the Telecommunications Reform Bill on 8 February, ushering in a new era with the biggest change to US communications since the Depression.

Many commentators have focused on the negative aspects of the new Act, which introduces draconian censorship provisions. For example, uttering **** in any of seven dirty permutations renders the reckless citizen liable to a $250,000 fine. Several civil liberties groups, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation, are challenging these censorship provisions in the courts, grounded on three ‘affronts’ to the First Amendment: unconstitutional expansion of Federal authority, vagueness and overbreadth, and failure to use the ‘least restrictive means’ to regulate speech.

On the positive side, the Act’s deregulation provisions open the way for one-stop shopping with all broadcast and telecoms services coming down the same line. Since the companies involved are likely to be mainly global operators, the Act will affect us all