On April 7, 1999, Corel Corporation held a press conference in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, to announce the official release of CorelDraw 9 Graphics Suite, which includes Corel Photo-Paint 9 and Corel WordPerfect 2000 Suite.
While the announcement was geared more towards those who use the Microsoft Windows platform, it was also announced that the Linux version of Corel WordPerfect Suite 2000 should be available in the last quarter of 1999, probably around November, and that the Linux version of CorelDraw 9 Graphics Suite will be available in the first quarter of 2000.
There are new features in both packages. One of them is real-time previewing in the WordPerfect Suite, also called Live Effects in CorelDraw, allowing you to ``preview'' a potential change to your document or drawing in ``real-time'' without committing to the change permanently. Also, CorelDraw 9 Suite will include IXLA digital camera support, allowing one to download and edit images from approximately 120 different camera models. Both packages allow you to publish a document in PDF format, a very important new feature for the legal community that locks a document so it cannot be edited, allowing lawyers to submit briefs electronically, safe in the knowledge they cannot be altered but are easily retrievable.
While other Linux packages are available, it is nice to see ``commercial'' software packages with outstanding industry acceptance available to the Linux community, further proving that Linux IS a viable alternative.
To show the success of Corel's Linux efforts, they provided the following information. Since the Personal Edition of WordPerfect 8 for Linux was released for download, over 900,000 download attempts have been recorded. Based on an on-line survey, 60% of the people downloading stated they were previous Microsoft Word users.
To add a little note of humour, during the CorelDraw demonstration, done on a Windows 95/98 machine, the software froze. This author had to bite his tongue hard so as not to yell out, ``That would not happen on a Linux machine!'' To the credit of the young lady performing the demonstration, she very quickly recovered and turned the ``crash'' into a demonstration of how fast CorelDraw 9 loads, for which she received a round of applause.
Dr. Michael Cowpland also announced Corel has been negotiating with the Debian Linux Development team to use the Debian Linux distribution as the backbone of Corel Linux for the Desktop. He also announced they would be using KDE as the default desktop environment. This came as a bit of a surprise, considering Corel's past work with Red Hat. Dr. Cowpland explained that Red Hat is concentrating on network servers and Caldera (another logical choice for an alliance) is focusing on Novell networks, while Corel's focus is on the desktop PC. Instead of reinventing the wheel, Corel decided to align themselves with an existing distribution, and Debian was the one they picked.
Some of the features Corel is promising in their Corel Linux for the Desktop are an easy setup GUI, plug-and-play support, auto-hardware detection, auto update from the web, Windows network integration including mapping and sharing, and a home networking GUI interface.
It will be interesting to see how many of these features are present when Corel releases their Linux for the Desktop, due in the fall of 1999 to coincide with the release of WordPerfect Suite 2000 for Linux, but they have stated a beta release will be ready for LinuxWorld in August.
Corel has realized that to get the masses to switch to Linux, they cannot expect users to purchase all new applications for the Linux operating system: they must provide a way for users to run their existing applications. To that end, Corel is also working with the Wine Project, partly to facilitate the porting of the two suites to Linux and also provide the ability to run one's existing Windows-based applications under Linux. For this, they should be applauded.
These are truly exciting times for the Linux community, and I for one am excited to see where Linux will be this time next year. One of Dr. Cowpland's closing remarks was that this is the 10th anniversary of CorelDraw, and while we have had great years of CorelDraw (under Windows), he is looking forward to the next 10 years of Linux.