WordPerfect is not only still, a new version came out in 2021

WordPerfect is not only still, a new version came out in 2021

Recently, my colleagues and I discussed the history of word processors (that’s exactly the kind of thing we do here), and a few of them reminisced about using a word called WordPerfect many, many years ago. Since 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 package. Also, this is not one of those cases where a company still charges money for what is actually abandonware – the latest release is WordPerfect 2021. Like a year ago. And its on sale.

Corel, the company that has been responsible for WordPerfect since before I was born, is running a (terribly modern) Black Friday in July campaign, which ends at 09.00 ET on Thursday. WordPerfect Office Home and Student, which includes the word processing software of the same name, as well as apps for creating slide shows, spreadsheets and taking notes, is priced down to $ 59.99 from $ 100. And the Standard and Professional versions, which include additional software and features, are a full $ 100 and $ 200 off, respectively.

Picture of a person sitting at a computer and grinning broadly.

Some are megafans of word processing.
Image: Corel

So just to summarize here: this software – one of the most important word processors before graphical user interfaces was widespread – still exists, and the company behind it apparently believes that there is something new users are interested in addressing. All I can say is wow.

To be clear, I’m sure it’s a kind of niche use case that people really love WordPerfect for, and that I’ll hear from pretty much everyone who still uses it why it’s actually the best word processing software out there. (And I’re happy to receive your feedback! I’m fascinated to learn what you do with it.) But I would also assume that anyone who needs WordPerfect no matter what they do … already has it, which means they do not get much out of a sale.

I do not mean to beat WordPerfect, but I’m not really sure if I would recommend it to most people. If you are already prepared to spend money on a productivity suite, you will almost certainly be much better off 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 alternative, why not just go all the way to free software – LibreOffice is a solid and completely free productivity suite for those who require having a complete set of features available offline, and Google Docs is perfectly fine for most people who just want to write a few documents and do not have to worry about saving or sharing 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 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 the OS / 2 or Amiga days, but it reminds me of a a lot in the early 2000s when I first learned to use a computer. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Not all apps are enhanced by a flashy, modern user interface or cloud integration.

Software that comes in an actual box. What a concept.
Photo: raviloks on eBay

One last note: If you want the most authentic retro word processing experience, you can even order WordPerfect on a disk. Yes, Corel is sending you a DVD with the 2021 Productivity Package on it. As someone who understands the value of time far, far away from the internet, I greatly appreciate this as an alternative – and as someone whose computers are all less than five or six years old and therefore do not have any kind of disk drive, I wish it came on a flash drive. Or 5.25-inch floppy disks, as some DOS versions did. Given that the Home and Student edition requires around 2.75 GB of space, it will only take around 2300 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 ensure that the text does not just run off the screen. How far we have come!

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