No one loves saving money more than small business owners. At least that's what Corel is hoping, as it touts its £149 WordPerfect Office 12.0 Small Business Edition as a low-cost alternative to the market leader: Microsoft's £380 Office 2003 Small Business Edition. This is a whopping £230 saving, but is it enough of a reason to switch?

The answer depends on how willing you are to leave behind what you know. Even with Corel's assurances of application-by-application compatibility with Office - including the Quattro spreadsheet app (pictured) - the addition of the great Bloomba email client (now called WordPerfect Mail) and image editor Paint Shop Pro 9.0, we found that forgetting Office wasn't easy.

That isn't to say the Corel program fails to provide all the features you need to run a business - including a host of OfficeReady templates for business management and planning. But even if your company standardises on WordPerfect Office 12.0, you'll eventually have to work with files, created by someone using Office that may have lost some functionality.

We managed to switch from standard Office apps to WordPerfect equivalents with few hiccups. For example, we missed Word's Reviewing toolbar, which lets you see or hide the changes made by the various people who worked on the file. WordPerfect's Review Document feature works only for files created in that program.

WordPerfect Office: Specs

  • 300MHz Pentium II processor
  • Windows 98 SE/Me/2000/XP/Server 2003
  • 128MB RAM
  • 1.2GB hard disk space
  • 300MHz Pentium II processor
  • Windows 98 SE/Me/2000/XP/Server 2003
  • 128MB RAM
  • 1.2GB hard disk space

OUR VERDICT

WordPerfect Office 12.0 Small Business Edition is a solid alternative to Microsoft Office. Unfortunately the price you pay for swimming against the current is a number of minor concessions. Corel's Office alternative adds email and an image editor, but you'll face some compromises.

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