Recently, my colleagues and I were discussing the history of word processors (which is what we’re doing here), and some of them remembered using one called WordPerfect many, many years ago. Considering that its heyday was in the eighties, I had heard little about it, so I googled it out of curiosity. And then I discovered that it was still being sold as a performance package. What’s more, this isn’t one of those cases where a company is still charging money for what is essentially abandoned software – the most recent release being WordPerfect 2021. Just like a year ago. And this on sale.
Corel, the company behind WordPerfect before I was born, has a (terribly modern) Black Friday promotion in July that ends at 9am ET on Thursday. WordPerfect Office Home and Student, which contains the word processing software of the same name as well as slideshow, spreadsheet, and note-taking apps, is reduced to $59.99 from $100. And the standard and pro editions, which include additional software and features, are on sale for $100 and $200 respectively.
So, to recap, this software – one of the popular word processors before graphical user interfaces became widespread – still exists, and the company behind it obviously thinks new users are interested in using it. All I can say is wow.
To be clear, I’m sure there’s some niche use case that people really love WordPerfect for, and I’m going to hear from just about everyone who still uses it why it’s actually the best word processing software out there. (And I applaud the feedback! I’m interested to see what you’re doing with it.) But I also believe that anyone who needs WordPerfect for anything…already has it, which means they won’t get much of the sale.
I don’t want to berate WordPerfect, but I’m not sure I recommend it to most people. If you’re already willing to spend money on a productivity suite, you’ll almost certainly be much better off if you just move on to 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 is even selling a perpetual license for Office 2021. And if you’re looking for WordPerfect as a cheaper alternative, why not just switch to free software – LibreOffice is solid and completely free productivity. Suite for those who want the full range of features available offline, while Google Docs is ideal for most people who just want to write a few documents and not worry about how to save or share them.
With all that said, I’m very happy to hear that WordPerfect still exists. It’s not often you hear about apps that have been around for over 40 years, especially those that aren’t the best in their category. Does he look his age? Of course I think – WordPerfect 2021 clearly doesn’t use the same user interface as it did in OS/2 or Amiga days, but it reminds me a lot of early 2000s, when I first learned to use a computer. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Not every app gets better with a bright, 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 disk. Yes, Corel will send you a DVD with their 2021 Productivity Suite. As someone who understands the value of time away from the Internet, I really appreciate this as an option – and as someone whose computers are less than five or six years old and therefore don’t have any disc drives, I wish it were on flash drive. Or 5.25-inch floppy disks, as was the case in some versions of DOS. Considering the home/school version requires about 2.75 GB of space, this would only require about 2,300 high-density drives (read: 1.2 MB).
PS – to answer a question one of my colleagues asked when I discovered WordPerfect 2021: no, you no longer have to press enter like a carriage return at the end of each line to make sure the text doesn’t just escape behind line limits. screen. How far have we come!
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