Note: 1/16/01: Since
the above footnote, Arkose appears to have gone out of business. I do not know
the fate of Perfect Works, or Akrose works, sadly. It was a good product.
There was a time in history, relatively speaking, when the only association
one had with Perfect, were words. WordPerfect has been a word processing
staple forever, it seems, and the popular version 5.1 for DOS is still
the mainstay of many thriving businesses. It has undergone many upgrades
and incarnations with WordPerfect 6.1 for Windows being the latest available
But since its acquisiton by Novell in March 1994, Perfect has taken
on a new life form of its own. The Novell Perfect Office suite features
WordPerfect, QuattroPro, Presentations and Paradox as a competitive suite
product to the Microsoft Office. The PerfectHome line of products has replaced
Novell's Main Street software and features such products as Perfect Works,
tailored for the home and family markets.
And the evolution continues with Canadian based Corel's
acquisition of the Perfects in January of this year. Last week Corel announced
that it would begin in April shipping the Corel WordPerfect Suite for Windows
3.1x which will feature WordPerfect 6.1, Corel Quattro Pro, and Netscape
Navigator bundled with additional products including beefed-up desktop
publishing applications. The Windows 95 version of the Corel WordPerfect
Suite is scheduled for a May 1996 release. A Corel Office Professional
version will also be released which additionally features Paradox, InfoCentral
and GroupWise. The32-bit version of the Office Professional is expected
to be released in June, 1996.
The fate of the home-based applications has been somewhat uncertain,
but I recently confirmed with Novell that they were indeed keeping Perfect
Works and would continue to support this product. This is good news indeed
since this line of integrated software applications offers the very basics
necessary for home computing in an intuitive, user-friendly interface.
Perfect Works, and its competitors, Claris Works and Microsoft Works, offer
an "all-in-one" package of word processing, database, and spreadsheet options.
I'm particularly pleased that Perfect Works didn't end up on the cutting
room floor, since I just finished reviewing it's first release of Perfect
Works for Kids and found it to be one of the best applications for kids
that I've seen in a long time. It's designed for the 4-10 age group, and
isn't just a game-like interface to practice spelling, reading or drawing.
Kids can produce book reports, journals, thank-you notes, letters, signs,
cards, calendars, independent work and address books all in an interactive,
This program is so interactive, that children need only use the mouse
to point to various options, and a friendly voice prompts them instantly
through every task. A Reading Bookworm will recite any text that is typed
on the screen and Spelling Bee chatters at high speed as it scans every
word in the document, searching for misspelled words. Cartoon-like icons
represent the text justification tools, font size and type, text styles,
text colors and other options such as saving and printing. Letters and
book reports are pre-formatted so that kids need only fill in the blanks
with their unique information. Saved work can be accessed with just a click
on desktop folders.
Waving boldly in the corner of the desktop screen is the America Online
flag, which allows users to access their online account directly from Perfect
Works. Once online, cyber-kids are automatically connected to the Kids
Only area of America Online where they
can research topics, get homework help, play games or interact with other
America Online youth.
Parents can control all aspects of Perfect Works for Kids and set up
to six kids (or grown-ups?) with their own file folders and preferences.
Each child's work is saved in their own folders. A parent password can
be setup so that children cannot access the program or America Online without
supervision. Each child has their own password and program features can
be customized and suited to each childs level of literacy.
System requirements for Perfect Works for Kids include: Microsoft Windows
95, 486SX25 or higher processor, 8 MB RAM, Double-speed CD-ROM, Sound card
and speakers, 256 color display, mouse and optional modem for online access.
I'm relatively sure that Perfect Works for Kids was probably not pivotal
in the negotiations between Novell and Corel, but I'm glad to know that
someone had the PerfectSense to realize that not all software is big business
and high finance. This is a terrific product that really boosts computer
literacy and meets the needs of the target age group.
PerfectWorks for Kids Novell, Inc.
Orem, UT (800)-453-1267; 801-222-6000 See note above.