Corel WordPerfect Suite 7 Doesn’t Work!

By , June 19, 1996

Ever since I upgraded to Windows 95, I have waited for a new version of WordPerfect that would support the new Windows 95 features (and which wouldn’t crash occasionally, as WordPerfect 6.1 does under Windows 95). Unfortunately, the release of new software was delayed while Novell sought a buyer for WordPerfect Corp., which Novell decided it should never have purchased. Finally, a few months ago, Corel bought WordPerfect, and over the past few weeks I have seen a number of ads for WordPerfect 7.0 but I couldn’t find it in the retail stores where I usually shop, and Corel never sent an upgrade notice or offer in the mail. This past Saturday, I found WordPerfect Suite 7.0 on the shelf at CompUSA in Newark [CA], and I bought a copy.

I inserted the CD-ROM in my computer at about 6:00 p.m. on Saturday evening, and ran the setup program. Since I didn’t want the “Presentations” or graphics modules, I selected the check-box items to not load those modules. The setup program then copied more than 65 megabytes of software onto my hard disk, and then began configuring the software for use on my system. To my amazement, the configuration program suddenly stopped and my computer locked up. When I restarted the computer, Windows 95 wouldn’t load, not even in “safe mode.”

I tried a number of actions, including re-installing Windows 95, but it was clear that the Windows registry was completely corrupted. I immediately made sure my data files were all backed up (fortunately, I could do that from MS-DOS mode, since I didn’t rely on a Windows backup program). Then, from about 9:00 to midnight on Saturday evening, I tried every option I could think of, yet nothing worked. After a night’s rest and careful consideration of the options, on Sunday morning, I surrendered and re-formatted the hard disk, and re-installed Windows 95 from scratch. (This was all done on a brand-new Pentium 133 system purchased on January 2, 1996.)

I then tried re-installing WordPerfect Suite 7.0 on my now “virgin” system and once again, after de-selecting the unwanted modules, I waited while it copied software onto my hard disk and then began configuring Windows 95 to work with the software. Once again, the installation software locked up, but thankfully I was able to restart Windows 95. I tried re-installing the software several more times, and then re-installed Windows 95 again, and then re-installed WP7 again. Eventually, the WP7 setup routine ran to completion (displaying several error messages along the way), but then WordPerfect crashed while loading.

Finally, I called the “premium” technical support line. To their credit, the technical support staff agreed that my problem was worth providing free support, so I spent over an hour on the telephone with a very patient technician, who eventually diagnosed the problem as being caused by a 16-bit CD-ROM driver in my system (I had been forced to manually install that driver because I couldn’t load Windows 95 to the reformatted hard disk until I had a driver to access the Win95 CD-ROM.)

I removed that driver and the software installation worked flawlessly. However, once again, WordPerfect 7.0 would not load, generating error messages. The technician helped me explore my system to discover that some necessary files weren’t loaded. I finally recognized that the problems appeared to be caused because WordPerfect’s setup program didn’t properly identify which files were needed for the modules I’d selected. I re-installed WordPerfect Suite 7.0 using the “default” configuration, which copied more than 93 megabytes of software onto my hard disk, and WordPerfect now loaded properly — after more than 12 hours of effort on Sunday.

I was able to use WordPerfect 7 for some very basic work on Monday (mainly printing envelopes), but I caught some kind of flu bug and thus couldn’t work Monday afternoon or Tuesday.

Unfortunately, when I next sat down to use WordPerfect, on Wednesday, I quickly discovered that although WordPerfect had seemed to install properly, it didn’t work. Whenever I tried to run the spell-checker, the system crashed. I then called the regular toll support line, and a technician asked me to try running WordPerfect under the Windows 95 “safe mode.” When I did so, the spell-checker seemed to work properly. The technician then told me that the problem was not with WordPerfect, but must be a conflict with something else in my system. He warned me that it could take four or five hours to diagnose this problem.

I consider myself to be a patient person, but after spending more than 15 hours just to install the program, and after discovering a new problem at every turn, the prospect of spending another 4 or 5 hours on a long-distance call to Utah did not appeal to me.

I think that Corel, having paid more than $1 billion for WordPerfect, needed to raise cash quickly and shipped WordPerfect Suite 7.0 before it was fully tested and debugged. (When a Corel technician walked me through the painful process of manually de-installing WordPerfect Suite 7 on Sunday, I noticed that the software even seems confused about its parentage, referring sometimes to Corel and sometimes to Novell in the Windows registry file.) Corel also cancelled the toll-free technical support that has been offered by WordPerfect Corp. for more than a decade (although the price of the software upgrade was unchanged); the hours for regular support were also cut back. It appears that Corel recognizes that it has shipped a defective product and wants to shift the cost of technical suport to end users.

Don’t buy WordPerfect 7.0 until you hear from a large number of people that it works properly! I expect that Corel will probably fix most of the problems with WordPerfect 7.0, and perhaps they will even be honorable and admit to the problems and offer a free upgrade to registered users. However, I can’t wait any longer; I can’t tolerate more hours of “down time” while I try to get WordPerfect 7.0 to work, nor can I tolerate the continued system crashes when I use WordPerfect 6.1 (which admittedly pre-dates the release of Windows 95). Although I have been a loyal WordPerfect user since 1986, and Quattro for almost as long, I am reluctantly planning to make the switch to Microsoft Office. (Note: as of January 1997, I am still using WordPerfect 6.1.)

Perhaps WordPerfect 7 works for some users; perhaps not. I do know that when I called the “premium” (e.g. $25-per-call) technical support line on Wednesday, June 21 at 5:30 p.m., I spent 52 minutes on hold before a technician came on the line; I experienced the same delay the next day. I suspect that means that thousands of other angry customers were calling. And I know that many other attorneys have commented in mailing list discussions that they have had problems with WordPerfect 7.


Note 9-7-96: Since I posted this web page in July, I have received dozens of email messages from other people who can’t get WP 7 to work properly; a recent writer said Corel is promising an October update. I have also received comments from several users who say WordPerfect 7 works fine for them (they all wrote within a span of several days, apparently prompted by someone at Corel). I have not (and will not) update this page because I returned WordPerfect 7 and I am not using it, so I have nothing new to report on this subject.You are viewing web page http://www.ca-probate.com/wp7.htm

ILE


Reply from Corel’s WordPerfect Product Manager

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Date: Wed, 08 Jan 1997 12:58:37 -0700
From: Craig Bushman < cbushman@corel.com >
To: markwelch@ca-probate.com
Subject: “WordPerfect 7 doesn’t work”
Encoding: 59 Text

Mark:

I read with interest your internet page about the new Corel WordPerfect 7 not working. I found it interesting because the problems you stated are not anything similar to what I’ve experienced the world over since the product has released. I have had a few customers who have come up to me after demonstrations at events explaining that in some cases they had difficulty loading the suite. I could count that number as less than ten. In every case I’ve taken their name and had a technician contact them and diagnose the problem. In every case, it was found that the problem was the “customization” the user had done in .INI files, the Windows registery or trying to “kludge” systems together that didn’t follow Windows 95 system recommendations.

The product has exceeded Corel’s expectations. Our marketshare and sales continue to go up everyday. We are already outselling Microsoft in the retail channel. This would not be happening if the problems exisited globally as you have experienced.

As a clarification. Corel essentially had nothing to do with the quality of the product that was shipped. The product was ready to be shipped back in January of 1996 but was held back awaiting the finalization of the Corel acquisition. By all Customer Support standards, it has been the cleanest release ever of WordPerfect. This is primarily due to the longest beta period (and largest) ever done by WordPerfect. As you can appreciate, however, even though we had thousands of beta testers, there is no way to test every possible configuration the product will be exposed to in the world. We have also found that Windows 95 is very tempermental and less forgiving with any possible registry conflict. Plug and Play is truly Plug and Pray.

I hope that since you wrote your message that things have improved for you. If not, please let me know and I’ll be happy to send you a complimentary copy of Corel Office Professional, which includes some bug fixes and enhancements over the original release, if you would pull your dad gum message off the internet! It doesn’t represent what reality has been for us this past year.

Your feedback is important. We need to have great products or they won’t sell. We want criticism or the products will never improve. We also need to keep Microsoft honest. If Corel fails with the WordPerfect product, everyone loses, especially the users!

-Craig Bushman
International Product Manager – Corel USA
(I’ve been on the WordPerfect side for 9 years)

PS. I know a lot of customers don’t like the fact that we’ve discontinued our toll-free support. I loved it, customers loved it. But the reality of today is that just WordPerfect sold five years ago for $495 dollars. Today you get 12 major product in an entire suite for as cheap as $79 dollars via mail order. A company can’t support toll-free support with that little of margin anymore. We can’t, neither can the competition. If the prices increased, we could bring it back, but customers would rather take the cheap price up front and take their chances with the need to call in. We are finding more unique ways to support the products like the “Ask the PerfectExpert” within WordPerfect 7 and the free internet support. I know the upgrade price hasn’t changed a lot over the years, but the quantity of products you get for that upgrade price sure has!


My Reply to Mr. Bushman:

I advised Mr. Bushman that I did not wish to receive a free copy of defective software I could not use, and I also told him that I will not remove this web page, but I advised him that as a courtesy, I would append his reply to my page for all to see. — Mark J. Welch

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