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Corel Microsoft The Almighty Buck

Microsoft Writes Off Corel 409

Posted by Hemos
from the the-end-of-the-road dept.
PizzaFace writes "Microsoft resuscitated Corel two and a half years ago, paying $135 million for a quarter of Corel's equity ownership. Corel talked then about bringing its products to .Net, and even hinted that it might use its Linux expertise to port .Net to Linux. Since then, Corel gave up on the Linux business and isn't talking anymore about .Net, but is instead riding its XML hobbyhorse. So Microsoft is selling its stake in Corel to a VC firm for $13 million, taking a 90% loss on the investment."
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Microsoft Writes Off Corel

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  • Well, duh (Score:5, Interesting)

    by AEton (654737) on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @06:12PM (#5488155)
    Microsoft business strategy as usual. WordPerfect might pose a threat or competition or maybe Corel owns a particularly juicy software patent? (eww) -- buy them. Nothing new under the sun--business as usual--move along, nothing to see here.
    • Re:Well, duh (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Kircle (564389)
      Perhaps Microsoft wasn't too happy when OEM's such as Dell and HP started replacing MicrosoftWorks with Corel's WordPerfect Office Suite...
    • Re:Well, duh (Score:3, Insightful)

      by danheskett (178529)
      Except that Corel was already teterring, and WordPerfect was already at record low sales and market share.

      Buying them probably had nothing to do with WordPerfect, and more to do with a hedge on possible .NET/Linux projects.
    • Re:Well, duh (Score:3, Insightful)

      by kelzer (83087)
      No, investing in Corel was just another effort to keep the "competition" alive until the whole anti-trust thing was over. Same reason MS invested in Apple and Borland.

  • by japhar81 (640163) on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @06:13PM (#5488158)
    Company dies, investors seek an exit... Next on slashdot: Pants put on, one leg at a time.
  • 90% Loss? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Cali Thalen (627449) on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @06:13PM (#5488162) Homepage
    Does that put it above or below most of M$'s product returns? (excluding Windows and Office naturally)

    -Thalen
    • Re:90% Loss? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Ninja Programmer (145252) on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @06:24PM (#5488283) Homepage
      Prior to the X-Box project, the Microsoft entertainment group was profitable. Aside from that your point is correct -- every other division of Microsoft loses money.
      • "every other division of Microsoft loses money"

        Every lunchtime overweight division execs can be seen waddling along to McDonalds with large bills fluttering away from every cash stuffed pocket.
      • Citizen Bill (Score:3, Insightful)

        by runlvl0 (198575)
        from Citizen Kane:
        Charles Foster Kane: You're right, I did lose a million dollars last year. I expect to lose a million dollars this year. I expect to lose a million dollars *next* year. You know, Mr. Thatcher, at the rate of a million dollars a year, I'll have to close this place... in 60 years.

        I'm not really sure what I mean by posting this, but it seems appropriate somehow.
      • Re:90% Loss? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Nessak (9218)
        OK, where is the proof. Every time there is a story on Microsoft/Xbox someone has to come out and say "They lose money on everything but windows/office." I don't buy that for a second. MS is huge company with lots of cash. It can afford to lose on some ventures (Xbox) but they make a hell of a lot of money on many other things. Server apps, business aps, other homes apps. MS makes a lot.

        Before pushing the standard MS lines, try to provide some proof, as I have never read (becides from slashdot) that MS loses money on everything but Win/Office. I don't love MS, but I hate posts pushing "facts" which make little logical sence when there is little proof to back them up. Just becuase we may not like MS dosen't mean they don't have a lot of products making a lot of cash.
        • Re:90% Loss? (Score:4, Informative)

          by sg3000 (87992) <sg_public AT mac DOT com> on Wednesday March 12, 2003 @10:33AM (#5493426)
          > I have never read (becides from slashdot) that MS
          > loses money on everything but Win/Office.

          Abrahams, Paul. "Microsoft Shows 85% Profit Margins for Windows," Financial Times. November 17, 2002. (Sorry, but the URL [ft.com] is for subscribers only).

          Here are some choice quotes from the article:


          Microsoft has revealed for the first time that it has made profit margins of 85 per cent on its Windows system while its remaining businesses made losses, raising questions about the benefits of the group's costly efforts at diversification.

          The client division, which markets Windows, generated operating profits last quarter of $2.48bn on revenues of $2.89bn, implying margins of 85 per cent.

          Among Microsoft's other businesses, the home and entertainment di vision, which includes the Xbox games console, lost $177m in the quarter on revenues of $505m. Salomon Smith Barney estimates it loses about $120 on each console it sells.
          MSN, the internet service provider and portal, lost $97m, down from losses of $199m in the same quarter last year, on revenues up from $431m to $531m.

          The business solutions group, which provides software for small and medium-sized businesses and includes recent acquisitions Great Plains of the US and Navision of Denmark, lost $68m on revenues of $107m.

          And the CE/Mobility division, which includes mobile telephone software and the Windows CE operating system for handheld computers, lost $33m on revenues of $17m.


          The Register also has an article [theregister.co.uk] based on Microsoft's public SEC filings:


          The breakdown of financials by division was published for the first time in Microsoft's Form 10-Q filing to the Securities & Exchange Commission, presumably as a side-effect of corporate America's attempt at a post-Enron clean-up. For the period ended September 30th, the two cash cows of Client (i.e. Windows) and Information Worker (Office) produced operating income of $2.48 billion on revenue of $2.89 billion, and $1.88 billion on $2.38 billion respectively.

          CE/Mobility only pulls in slightly more revenue and has slightly lower losses ($14 million in and $48 million out in 2001), and Xbox has resulted in a revenue boost plus a substantially increased loss for Home and Entertainment (the loss was $68 million on $236 million in 2001).


          Of course, you don't have to take their word for it; just check out Microsoft's recent SEC filings. It seems that Windows and Office pay the rent for all of Microsoft's other endeavors. I guess that's one of the hundreds of perks of illegally abusing your monopoly!
  • Missing the point (Score:4, Insightful)

    by BWJones (18351) on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @06:14PM (#5488165) Homepage Journal
    The whole point of purchasing Corel was not to investigate Linux or any other option. Rather the goal was to kill it. Dead. Thus, eliminating any competition or furthering the prospects of important applications on competing platforms.

    • by Bonker (243350) on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @06:15PM (#5488186)
      Certainly. I'm certain if someone walked up today and told the Microsoft board of directors that he could 'eliminate' Linux for 1 Billion dollars and could prove it, then they wouldn't blink twice before signing a check.
      • by caino59 (313096)
        you and parent poster make a very valid point.

        for a company (and owner) that are worth rediculous amounts of cash....what is the price of eliminating the competition.

        A 90% loss over 2.5 years...122 million...
        thats only 50 million a year...

        wish i could throw away money like that ;oP

      • by tomhudson (43916)
        Only a billion? I think they'd pay 10x that, and smile all the while.
        • by drinkypoo (153816)
          If you killed linux, something else would rear its head and take its place, hopefully something with a more "modern" architecture. (The only reason *I* want a microkernel architecture to be standard is the ability to run multiple "operating systems" (maybe should be called operating environments at this point?) at the same time.
        • Re:Missing the point (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Derek (1525) on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @08:00PM (#5489247) Journal
          Only a billion? I think they'd pay 10x that, and smile all the while.
          Take $10,000,000,000 and divide that by the number of core kernel and key application developers (a number that I will estimate at 40,000) and you get $250,000. Take that $250,000 and offer it to the developers if they will sign a contract to stop working on anything non-Microsoft. Those that refuse this offer will get a $250,000 bounty put on their heads. Either way, taking out the top 40,000 Linux developers will certainly put a fatal dent in the Linux roadmap.

          And that is just the kind of evil plan that seems to make big American companies drool!

          -Derek

          P.S. This started out as a whimsical post, but the more I think about it, the more it scares me how powerful 10 billion dollars really can be!

          • Take that $250,000 and offer it to the developers if they will sign a contract to stop working on anything non-Microsoft. Those that refuse this offer will get a $250,000 bounty put on their heads. Either way, taking out the top 40,000 Linux developers will certainly put a fatal dent in the Linux roadmap.

            Sure, until the next generation, eager to code cool stuff and maybe get a huge payoff to stop, replace them.

            Oh and BTW, what do you mean by a bounty?

    • by Kevin Stevens (227724) <kevstev.gmail@com> on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @06:27PM (#5488329)
      I wouldnt go that far. Corel was pretty much dead as it was. It would have helped MS a great deal more to leave the 'competition' in place and let it get its 8% marketshare so it could tell the DOJ about how its fragile market dominance could topple at any second. If thats true... then MS should start to look at itself as an Operating System and Software company, and not a Window's company, and port Office to Linux and make its own linux Distro. Sounds crazy? Yeah it does. But I can guarantee that Joe Schmoe wont mind trying linux out if MS backs it. Put on top of that fat service contracts for support and apple as the only niche player... and things work out well.
      • Re:Missing the point (Score:3, Interesting)

        by kidlinux (2550)
        Microsoft wouldn't make a Linux distribution. If they did, and all Windows users eventually accepted it because it was backed by Microsoft, then eventually those users would move to another less expensive distribution. Microsoft would lose its dominance (ie: monopoly) in a hurry.

        Also - this is purely speculation - a lot of investors may drop Microsoft. Microsoft's adopting Linux could be seen as "caving in" to the competiton, which some may interpret as a weakness. More realistically, as the Joe Schmoe's start to become comfortable with Linux and begin trying new distributions, the investors may follow those users to another Linux company.

        It seems to me that Microsoft would have way too much to lose by adopting Linux. Though the way things are going right now, Microsoft's loss is inevitable. One way is just quicker than the other.
    • Explain logic? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Corel was on its way to going out of business without the Microsoft money. I'm not quite sure how the investment would kill them; it just means the Corel Linux stuff got sold off a bit later (when they sold it to Xandros) rather than earlier (when they would've gone bankrupt).

      What *does* make sense is wanting another major software developer to use .Net for its applications. It would lend credibilty to the .Net platform. And since there aren't too many major desktop application developers for Windows left (Adobe...?), Corel's an obvious choice.

      Not everything Microsoft does is pure evil.
      • I'm not quite sure how the investment would kill them

        Microsoft needed Corel for a couple of reasons. 1) to help convince other developers to go .NET. 2) to help prop Corel up in case Microsoft needed to cite examples of other companies that could compete with them. After Ashcroft et.al. killed the antitrust suit, this need was moot. 3) String Corel along and ensure that no real development for competing platforms ensued. Microsoft is always looking behind its back at potential competitors and for a while Corel was looking like it had potential. Microsoft had to ensure that potential was restrained.

        Not everything Microsoft does is pure evil.

        I don't equate this issue with good or evil as those words have other implications. However, what I do feel is that Microsoft's dominance of the personal computer industry is a bad thing if you feel that competition breeds better products. I certainly feel that way. I mean all you have to do is examine what it costs Microsoft to develop Windows versus what Apple's investment in OS X is. There are orders of magnitude differences and another example of wasted energy and inefficiency maintaining an environment that is not as good as it could be.

    • by The Bungi (221687)
      Mwahaha. Corel was one fsked up company. They were irrelevant right after they released Draw 4.0, which bombed big time. People just didn't upgrade from 3.0, which in contrast was a great product that made them what they were in the early 90s. By the time 5.0 came out, it was too late as people moved to other products and the "desktop publishing revolution" started to die out. Ditto Aldus (although not because of crappy quality).

      From then on they tried just about anything Cowpland could dream of, including moving to Linux (yeah, there's a core business focus for you). They practically killed Wordperfect by themselves, even before Microsoft took equity in them. By the time Word 6.0 was out, WP was dead in the water anyway.

      But, I like your FUD. It's poetic.

      • Re:Missing the point (Score:5, Informative)

        by Speed Racer (9074) on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @07:54PM (#5489207)

        They practically killed Wordperfect by themselves, even before Microsoft took equity in them.

        WordPerfect had been on its deathbed long before Corel came into the picture. Novell mismanaged it into the ground and dumped it on Corel in January 1996. By that time, Word had already supplanted WordPerfect as the word processor of choice for most professionals (with lawyers steadfastly refusing to leave their beloved WordPerfect 5.1). Corel is many things but you can't pin WordPerfect's demise on them. Novell is the culprit in that whodunit.
    • Uhhh. Pardon me, but I think that 2.5 yrs ago, when MS bought it's $135M share in Corel, Corel wasn't in the Linux business. That was a later concern after they had money. Plus, MS bought 1/4 of Corel, not all of it, so they didn't "purchase Corel." And thirdly, MS didn't kill Corel, Corel's crappy management did it to themselves.
      • Re:Missing the point (Score:5, Informative)

        by twitter (104583) on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @08:45PM (#5489673) Homepage Journal
        Uhhh. Pardon me, but I think that 2.5 yrs ago, when MS bought it's $135M share in Corel, Corel wasn't in the Linux business.

        Bzzzzt! You could not be more wrong. By late 1999, Corel had a Linux distribution and had ported Word Perfect and Correl Office to it. They were giving away "personal" versions of Word Perfect, the Word Processor that ruled the PC world untill Microsoft dumped Word on business students. As Word Perfect format was still the only officialy accepted private document format at most government agencies and business, Word Perfect still represented a significant threat to M$ and combined with a non M$ operating system M$ had no power to mess with it. Word Perfect 2000 came Windows only and the Linux version used Windoze emulation. Was this a co-incidence? I think not. Crappy management wimped out and took their little M$ bribe when they could have made something new and useful.

  • by Mainframer (530235) on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @06:15PM (#5488174)
    Considering Microsoft's capitalization, that means that future Windows XP licenses will cost .000001 US/cent more in order to recoup the Corel adventure losses...
    • by handy_vandal (606174) on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @07:24PM (#5488940) Homepage Journal
      Considering Microsoft's capitalization, that means that future Windows XP licenses will cost .000001 US/cent more in order to recoup the Corel adventure losses...

      Sure, Microsoft's cost works out to .000001 US/cent per license count. But MS will actually charge $9.99 more per license count. Why? For the same reason a dog licks its balls: because it can.
  • Well... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 13Echo (209846) on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @06:15PM (#5488175) Homepage Journal
    Considering the fact that Microsoft killed Corel (WordPerfect) for the sake of its own products, I don't think that they really care about the loss. They've made more than enough to cover the extra 90%.

    Couldn't that be the real reason that they invested in the company? Microsoft always gets its fingers into the competition when they feel that they could be a threat.
    • Actually I use WordPerfect and its quite nice (except the thesaurus). Its still vastly more workable that M$ word which is still to this day a horrible abomination.

      Corel attemts at a database tool seem laughable though. Their spread sheet is nice and their presentation package is respectable though it could use a little intuition.

      lets hope now that they have squandered all the M$ money the lazy execs will be fired and some people that actually care will be inserted in their place.

      WP has not grown, but its still better than word...
    • Considering the fact that Microsoft killed Corel

      Considering what fact? Your opinion? MS invested in Apple too - is that why Apple is doing so well?

      I appreciate a good discussion on the issues at hand, but you lose all credibility when you spout off conspiracy theory's as "fact".
    • by NineNine (235196) on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @07:37PM (#5489054)
      Corel Did. MS did NOT own a majority share in Corel, thus they couldn't do anything in the company without support. Corel's horrible management killed Corel. They should have just stuck with what they were good at. Instead, they jumped on (and are continuing to jump on) ev ery trendy bandwagon that rolls through the industry. Corel is irrelevant. Too bad WP is gone. I use Textpad now, but it would've been nice to have something with a few more features.
  • by $$$$$exyGal (638164) on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @06:16PM (#5488191) Homepage Journal
    And with the antitrust case against Microsoft settled, DeGroot added, "There's less of a need for Microsoft to show interest in keeping independent software vendors going."

    That's the heart of the issue, right there. So ironic.

    • Yes, Microsoft invested similar amounts in Apple and Borland when they were on the ropes. In those cases, like Corel's, it seemed that Microsoft wanted to keep an appearance of competition in the marketplace. Microsoft doesn't feel as much legal need to maintain those appearances anymore.

      Apple and Borland were able to use their new leases on life to focus on profitable market niches. It seems that Corel hasn't been able to find a niche that is sufficiently sheltered from Microsoft's dominance while being profitable enough to carry the company.
  • Why corel is dying (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Tuxinatorium (463682) on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @06:16PM (#5488193) Homepage
    Corel is dying because their software is inferior. The only reason anybody ever uses it is because it's so dirt cheap. At Newegg, Corel office suite comes free with every purchase over $500. For a while, they were selling it for $10 a pop with free shipping.
    • by Grrreat (584733) on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @06:26PM (#5488311)
      You must have never used WordPerfect. Its by a far distance better than Word as far a preserving the qaulity of a document. It produces much better output than Word. Reveal codes are the reall helper in fixing documents of any kind.
      • Wordperfect was the best Word processor ever made.
        Version 7 wasn't great, but WAY better than Word
        Version 8 was good
        Version 9 (2000) was awesome.
        Version 10 (2002) is crap.

        Coreldraw freaking rocked.
        Version 8 was great.
        Version 9 hauled ass.
        Version 11 is complete crap.

        My office has been a Corel shop for a long time. Corel consistantly put out products that beat everybody else senseless. I don't know where they went wrong, if their loss in market share sent them into layoffs which sent out bad code which forced shops like us to go the MS way.. I don't know.
      • I've used wordperfect. It offered you nothing whatsoever to be better than MSWord, but the interface design was crap and it was also crashier. How does that make it superior? Also Word does let you view formatting, you know, though not as much. Then again, if you want per-character positioning, you're much better off with pagemaker or quark or whatever is out there today than with a word processor.
      • > Its by a far distance better than Word

        I would have to agree. Word Perfect is still the bomb, and worth every penny. I started Word Processing on a computer with Word Perfect 5.0 for DOS. Good stuff.

        Unfotunately, I switched to the Dark Side because my University was a Microsoft campus and it just made sense at the time (plus Office was hella cheap).

        Now that I'm free from the University, though, I'm slowly making the switch to Open Office. *sigh* Word Perfect is a good product, but Open Office works great too for what I need, and its Linux version is actually updated. If I used Windows only, I'd probably consider purchasing WP 2002 off of eBay for 30 cents (50 cents + free shipping if you Buy It Now!).

        Update: I just checked out their web site before hitting Submit. They only offer an upgrade for previous users of their Windows or DOS [corel.com] product! Sorry Linux users, you made us go broke and we're bitter about it! Lame. They will, however, let you upgrade to WP 2002 if you were a previous user of CorelDraw 3 or later. Now that makes sense.

      • Not only this, but myself and other authors won't touch Word because its formatting and macros are horrible, it botches documents to death when you upgrade or convert, and it can't even format a page typographically for manuscript formats.

        WordPerfect, WordStar and other programs which were designed for word processing rather than making memos and pretty signs for businesses are the true power programs for writers. WordPerfect 10 isn't as great with today's software as WordPerfect 5.1 was with software of that day, but it's still well worth the money.
    • by BWJones (18351)
      Corel is dying because their software is inferior.

      By this logic, Microsoft would be dying as well.

      The only reason anybody ever uses it is because it's so dirt cheap.

      Hmm. I thought this was part of the appeal of lots of open source stuff and Wintel stuff in general. It's cheaper than better solutions that may or may not ultimately cost more money.

      • Corel is dying because their software is inferior.

        By this logic, Microsoft would be dying as well.

        Really? Inferior to whom? A spectacular OS X that requires proprietary hardware? Maybe you mean a server OS with an inhumanly kludgy GUI and vastly too many slef-righteous chefs in linux?

        Could you be Yet Another Linux Troll? Looks that way.

        • Hrmm. Did you notice that I was replying to the previous post?

          Really? Inferior to whom?

          Take your pick. Honestly, there has been some good products that come out of Microsoft, but on the whole, when they try to leverage their products to work within the Windows paradigm, they are handicapping themselves. There are innumerable instances of products using superior technologies or implementation that would not have fit or would have competed with other Microsoft products that have been killed.

          A spectacular OS X that requires proprietary hardware?

          Works well for me. Exceptionally well in fact. So well that all my hardware purchases for the forseeable future will be from Apple.

          Maybe you mean a server OS with an inhumanly kludgy GUI and vastly too many slef-righteous chefs in linux?

          I generally use the tools that get the job done. If it only comes on a *nix with an X-windows interface, I will run it to accomplish work and push science forward. But the cool thing is that I can do this too on OS X.

  • by Trogre (513942) on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @06:17PM (#5488202) Homepage
    ...corel Draw for Linux?

    The win32 version is one of the few truly excellent drawing packages I've come across.

    It'd be a pity to see it go to waste.

  • by trmj (579410) <tmacfarlan.gmail@com> on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @06:18PM (#5488216) Journal

    That cool little bean bag penguin that came in the box.

    You can still get one of these at your local Staples store for $4.50 on clearance, just ask if they have Corel WordPerfect Office 2000 for Linux.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    by neglect. They've been putting out a stale piece of software with a handful of updates (most of them to the XML part) since 9.0 was released. 8.0 was the last great version of WP.

    Note that the people working at Corel weren't the problem; the ones I talked to were dedicated to WP. I imagine the development resources just weren't there.
    • The real thing that killed Corel was incompatibility with Office.

      If Corel had jumped up and down sooner about M$'s file format shit then maybe Corel would still be triving.

      On the other hand, it is more likely it would have just led to M$ destroying them a bit sooner.

  • The situation with the economy and the tech sector is just now starting to effect M$. I have a feeling we will start to hear more stories about how Microsoft is cutting their losses on bad investments.

    [nelson] HA HA! [/nelson]
  • Swell (Score:2, Offtopic)

    by Torinaga-Sama (189890)
    a tree falls alone
    in this forest no one cares
    no shortage of leaves

  • Good News? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Upright Joe (658035) <uprightjoeNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @06:22PM (#5488253) Homepage
    I think this is probably good news. I'm glad that MS no longer has a stake in Corel. Some of Corel's products are very nice, high quality applications. Hopfully this VC firm will help bring them to competitive market shares. Frankly, I think Draw and Photopaint are far easier to learn that Photoshop and Illustrator. I also liked WordPerfect quite a bit more than current versions of MS Word though I still think Word 95 is to this day the best Word Processor ever written (flame away).
  • by generic-man (33649) on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @06:23PM (#5488272) Homepage Journal
    1. Build unsuccessful Linux company
    2. Get purchased by Microsoft for X dollars
    3. Get sold by Microsoft for X/10 dollars
    4. If Microsoft has money left over, go to step 1.
    5. Microsoft goes bankrupt!
    Microsoft lost $123 million on the Corel deal. If they do this just 326 more times, they'll be bankrupt!
  • 1) take a handful of shit
    2) throw it at a wall and see what sticks
    3) profit
  • Why not... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nedron (5294) on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @06:31PM (#5488361) Homepage
    Now that MSFT has been let off virtually penalty free by the Bush administration, why bother to keep propping up a "competitor". Microsoft was desparate during the trial to insure that none of the competition dropped off the face of the earth, which would have added additional fuel to the penalty phase of the trial.

    Now that they don't have to worry about being punished, why continue shoring up companies like Corel? I wouldn't be surprised if they also drop their support of Apple (via Office X) for the same reason. They no longer have to prove that they're "good partners".

    Frankly, after the previous round of government litigation in the mid-nineties, the same thing happened. Once they were out from under close scrutiny the loosed the dogs of war.

    -David
  • "Microsoft Writes off Corel"

    I had written Corel off years ago. What took Microsoft so long?
    • "[Microsoft]don't have to worry anymore, because Corel has pretty well failed at everything they've done. They're clearly not a player of the office suite market anymore, and the graphics business is in a tailspin."

    What more is there to say?

  • Corporate Software (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Kirin3 (133278)
    Note: This is straight off the top of my head, this is opinion, but it's more of a pondering to me.

    It seems that far too much importance is given to WHO is making a software, WHO is on-board (or in-bed perhaps), WHO is going to buy, WHO is shipping, WHO invested in WHO...

    It seems corporate software is more about making market splashes than to provide a stable and sensible platform for future development of those projects. Money In, Money Out. Garbage In, Garbage Out.

    If the companies involved aren't about making a better software industry (and to avoid argument, let's say "better" equals "more thought out, more stable for the future of software and the industry than a company"), then the products they create won't make a better industry, no matter WHO uses them.

    Software has always been about HOW people use it. Not everything made was made for the largest audience, and not everything that is made for a niche audience hits its audience.

    Corel was a graphics software development company (remember CorelDraw?). It was far more about real-world transferrable graphics, signs, tshirts, etc.

    Why would anyone have expected it to get into Linux eventually, and even less would expect MS would ever buy into a company pushing Linux.

    I'm not surprised Corel doesn't do Linux even more. I'm even less surprised that MS bailed out of Corel.
  • by Ed Avis (5917) <ed@membled.com> on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @06:34PM (#5488397) Homepage
    Remember back when Corel decided Java was the future, and said it would be rewriting its office suite in Java?

    Then a few years later it was Linux. Asked by an interviewer whether the Linux thing was just a passing obsession for Corel like Java had been, a spokesman asserted that no, this was different, Corel was really committed to Linux.

    Then they got almost-bought by Microsoft, dumped Linux and started going on about .NET, again threatening to port the by now rather cobwebby Corel Office to the new platform.

    Now that too has gone and XML is the big thing? Whatever next?
    • by mcc (14761) <amcclure@purdue.edu> on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @06:56PM (#5488638) Homepage
      I think the thing to take away here is to remember what happened at the end of each of these crazes.

      As far as i can tell, Corel has never once followed through on any of these buzzword projects. They get *something* in the hands of consumers.. they never really *commit*.. they spend lots of money.. then they get bored, wander off, and dump the thing like it never existed sometime well before the point at which the inclusion of the buzzword would begin to make sense.

      Like the java thing all those years ago. They got their office suite *working* in java. I tried it. It was buggy and it was slow, but it was beta, and it was *there*. But, from my perspective as a mac user-- well, first off, running it was a bloody mess, you had to bugger about with .jar files. They didn't bother doing the application encapsulization thing on any platform, you had to run it in a browser or appletrunner ultimately if i remember right. But that's just a lack of polish. They had the groundwork. And most of the problems *i* had were that this was in the early days of apple's MRJ runtime and the MRJ was *slow*.

      So then what did they do? Well, um, nothing. After awhile they decided it wasn't worth the bother and just stopped updating, maintaining or allowing you to download it. By the time the MRJ reached a decent level of speed, which was still the EARLY days of java, you couldn't get Wordperfect for Java anymore, and if i remember right the older WPJ versions had some big incompaibilities with the later MRJ versions anyway. Had they kept developing it, they probably would have been able to come up with a reason why Wordperfect for Java is a good idea, and it would have been a usable, considerable project. Java's a big thing now, Java's everywhere, Java could probably use a wordprocessor. But they didn't bother to let that happen.

      And then the linux thing. Everyone said it was a neat distro, not *very* revolutionary, but that it needed more work. Did they do the work? Did they develop the product until it lived up to its stated goals? Did they even maintain it long enough for it to take hold? No, they just went "hm, this isn't taking over the world overnight, it probably isn't worth the bother". Then they ran out of money.

      I don't know what's up with this .NET or XML things, but i'm willing to bet that Corel won't really bother coming up with a reason why you should be excited or whatever that they're using .NET and XML now, and they won't explore or exploit the possible benefits of .NET and XML being part of their architecture, whatever those are.

      This is, of course, just my perception of things, and i could be wrong, but *shrugs*.
      • by nathanh (1214) on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @08:53PM (#5489735) Homepage
        Like the java thing all those years ago. They got their office suite *working* in java. I tried it. It was buggy and it was slow, but it was beta, and it was *there*.

        Amen. I remember trying it out on a P200 and it sucked mightily. It was slow. It was buggy. But it worked. And TODAY it would be just fine. Java is faster. Computers are faster. If Corel had stuck it out then today they'd have an office suite that ran on Macintosh, Solaris, Linux, FreeBSD, Windows NT, Windows 95, Windows CE, ... probably even bloody Palm Pilot. Instead they gave up at the first hurdle. Yes, it will always be slower on Windows than a native app written in C++ using MFC. It doesn't matter. I use interpreted applications all the time. They should have stuck to their guns. They are a victim of their own insecurity.

  • by Jedi Holocron (225191) on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @06:36PM (#5488417) Homepage Journal
    90% loss or a $122m investment in their own products??? I think the point is that MS invested in Corel to kill it are accurate. I think many pointed this out when it first happened and predicted the demise of Corel to come...

    Well, here it may be!

    I personally prefer WordPerfect as a word processor application. I feel it is more intuitive, more versitile, easier to control, what not than MS Word. I hate Word. If not for WP I'd have died trying to write my masters thesis. MS doesn't have a superior product, they have a superior suite that most people use because it is on their machines when they get them. And hence it has become a default. WP & MS are not interoperable (and MS will keep it that way) and so WP has no chance at competition.

    Sorry, I rant now. WP lost and sadly I must now resort to Word because to many of my coworkers complained about all my files saved as .wpd and not .doc. But it's not because Word is superior.

    Carry on.

    The shortest distance between to puns is a straight line.
  • Corel/Wordperfect (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bloosqr (33593) on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @06:38PM (#5488447) Homepage
    The death of Corel was due to Corel and no one else. They had what everyone wanted a well done office suite that was stable had been running for years on both windows and X platforms (The older versions of wordperfect had solaris binaries for instance). Even today, there is no comparision between wordperfect and koffice or even openoffice (though open office is improving). What Corel did, and I really find this unforgivable, was they got the brainiac idea to "sync" the two versions of the code base (X and window) by using wine! As a result wordperfect 2000 was basically an unusable piece of crap. It was horribly buggy and crashed so often that the corel newsgroups encouraged people to stick w/ free wordperfet 8. Corel jumped on the bandwagon (linux desktop) a bit too early and they simply fucked up on the delivery. People *WANT* a usable linux desktop. but the office suite actually has to *work*. Lets put it this way, walmart is currently selling walmart linux boxes by the droves right? How much more lucrative would it be to sell those things w/ an existing, commercial office suite thats actually been running for ages? Even businesses would find wordperfect far more usable than open office for windows->linux secretarial conversions.

    In any case converting to wine was as stupid as rewriting wordperfect in java (which apparantly they tried to do). If they had gotten a decent set of coders to keep a native unix set with decent wrappers they could easily have grabbed the market. The conclusion they drew from being burned by the linux sector (i.e. non selling product) wasn't the wrong conclusion because essentially they were selling a broken, nonworking product that they had no idea how to support.

    -bloo
    • Re:Corel/Wordperfect (Score:2, Interesting)

      by bloosqr (33593)
      " The conclusion they drew from being burned by the linux sector (i.e. non selling product) wasn't the wrong conclusion because essentially they were selling a broken, nonworking product that they had no idea how to support."

      ack : wasn't = was

    • not quite (Score:5, Insightful)

      by RelliK (4466) on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @08:28PM (#5489531)
      What Corel did, and I really find this unforgivable, was they got the brainiac idea to "sync" the two versions of the code base (X and window) by using wine!

      No, what Corel did, back in 95 or so was simply drop WP on all platforms but Windows and started to compete with Microsoft head to head on Microsoft's own platform. We all know how well that turned out. When Linux became a buzzword and Corel was looking for a new bandwagon to jump on, they simply couldn't produce a native version of WP in a reasonable timeframe, so they just hacked it until it ran under WINE without crashing too much. When I downloaded a trial version of WP8 for Linux, my first reaction was "are they actually trying to sell this thing?". I had the same impression about their distribution: a good start, but far, far from a finished product.

      Had they kept the Unix ports going, they would have been able to provide a high-quality office suite for Linux. The last version of WP I used was WP8 (for Windows), and I certainly would have paid for a Linux version. But no, I am not interested in half-assed wine hacks.

      Anyway, the story of Corel is truly sad. They were an awesome graphics company back in early 90s, but they kept making one boneheaded decision after another. This is a perfect example of how *not* to run a company.

  • Draw! (Score:4, Funny)

    by tsa (15680) on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @06:39PM (#5488451) Homepage
    I hope this means that I can keep on using Corel Draw. Haven't found anything better yet.
  • A bit misleading... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @06:39PM (#5488452)

    Corel talked then about bringing its products to .Net, and even hinted that it might use its Linux expertise to port .Net to Linux. Since then, Corel gave up on the Linux business and isn't talking anymore about .Net, but is instead riding its XML hobbyhorse.

    In reality, Corel wrote Rotor (the shared source version of .Net for Free BSD) and also wrote Grafigo in C# and .Net.

    Half-truths are just as bad as half-lies.

    • "Corel wrote Rotor "

      Coo, while I had my suspicions, I hadn't read that in black and white before.

      Doesn't surprise me, really.

      For the record, the company where I work rejected Rotor out of hand as the license is just unworkable in a commercial product. Not even worth my time to try playing with it.
      Compare LGPL (for the libraries/classes), no problem.
  • I gave up on WordPerfect after v8 for Linux stopped working on up-to-date distributions (it's a libc v5 app). The only product at Corel that I still have an interest in is Painter (started its life as Fractal Design Painter) for the Mac. It'd be a real shame if it went down the tubes with Corel.
  • Rotor (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Schnapple (262314) <{tomkidd} {at} {viatexas.com}> on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @06:45PM (#5488524) Homepage
    Actually, it's a little known fact that Rotor [microsoft.com], the port of the CLI and C# compilers (which are parts of .NET) to FreeBSD 4.7, Mac OS X 10.2 and (if you're clever about it) Linux, was done by Corel.

    So it wasn't so much that they were planning to port .NET, they pretty much did. The shared libraries (which, along with the CLR constitute the .NET Framework) weren't ported or recreated for the platform which makes sense, since Microsoft wants Windows to have some sort of advantage, but armed with the CLR and the C# compiler, one could still do .NET work, and if they were careful or clever, come up with a C# program which would compile on all platforms. The lack of libraries though pretty much meant the Mono and Portable.NET projects weren't in vain.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @06:49PM (#5488567)
    You guys are missing the point. Microsoft didn't kill Corel, Michael Cowpland (former CEO and flamboyant goofball) killed it. He (a) bought the Wordperfect suite after it stumbled badly with windows; (b) rewrote it all in java; (c) rewrote it all for Linux; (d) bought the Xerox Ventura suite; and (e) declared war on microsoft.

    Mikie has some problems. Like god complex. And a show wife who wore slinky outfits and threw huge parties. He sent a postcard out to people with his blonde babe wife sprawled over his lamborghini.

    Corel began as the first high-end graphics package provider for Windows 3.0 (actually it started with hardware, but graphics made Corel an international company).

    If Mikie had kept his eye on the ball and stuck with graphics with an increasing emphasis on web and perhaps looking into media, streaming video, backends etc, it would never have gone down the rathole of wordprocessing suites.

    The new CEO seems to be concentrating on graphics again. Maybe he can get somewhere.

    Microsoft only became relevant because Mikie didn't stick with core competencies.
    • Jezuz, I forgot all about their little stunt in trying to rewrite WP in java. My god what were they thinking?

      Finally a definitive account of the Corel's shoddy history instead of the kneejerk "It's all Microsofts fault" reaction. Michael Cowpland is the reason Corel is where they are today. He was noting but a blowhard. Corel developed one good product (Draw) and everything else they acquired from other companies, usually knee-jerk reactions to jump on the latest bandwagon at the time . Remember "thin-clients?" Remember "Corel-Linux?"

      Combine that with the fact that Corel couldn't market water in the middle of the desert and it's obvious that MS isn't the main reason why they are going down the drain.

  • by kfg (145172) on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @06:51PM (#5488597)
    Like most of us didn't see this coming, and even predict it, two and a half years ago?

    As a matter of fact, didn't Nostradamus predict this? I think it was in some quatrain about the tyrant at the 45th parallel in the new world.

    I'll bet you can even dick "Hister" around with numerology to make it turn out to be "Bill Gates," or at least "Borg."

    Nothing to see here. It was all preordained.

    KFG
  • Viet Cong?

    Huh?

  • You can make sorts of credible, Machiavellian explanations for Microsoft's maneuvers concerning Corel. But why the heck would Vector buy Microsoft's shares in Corel? Can Corel really go anywhere with its current products?
  • The object was... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dcr (145627) on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @07:09PM (#5488779)

    to kill WordPerfect for Linux...

    At least, this was the perception that I reached. Before the M$ bail-out, you could find WordPerfect Office 2000 for Linux in a variety of markets. Heck, you could even find it for sale in the software section of the bookstore here at Texas A&M. After the bail-out, *poof!* it's gone - you can not find it anywhere.

    In a similar fashion, the WordPerfect for Macintosh development was stopped (it may have stopped before this, but it certainly died as far as native OS X development was concerned) when the bail-out happened. This has given Microsoft an even larger share of the office software market for Macintoshes than they have for Windows systems. How ironic is that?

    For those who think that the Corel products are junk, as I saw in several of the posts - I suggest you try them, before you post...

    CorelDraw was compared to PhotoShop, which is like comparing Excel to Word (I thought I would put this in Microsoft products to make it easier to understand) - they are both useful programs, but if you use one for some a project that the other was specifically intended for, you will be frustrated.

    Likewise, WordPerfect is a much more versatile word processor than Word. In my job of doing computer support, I have amazed Word users by fixing massive formatting problems in their documents in seconds by importing the document into WordPerfect, turning the "view formatting codes" on and seeing why the formatting is not working the way that the user thinks it should look. This feature alone makes WordPerfect my choice - the fact that all of its other features work better is just gravy.

  • the timing (Score:5, Informative)

    by univeralifepadre (582313) on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @07:09PM (#5488783) Homepage
    just a couple more tidbits - yesterday corel announced [itnews.com.au] that the next version of WordPerfect Office 11 will ship in April, at least two months ahead of Microsoft Office 2003, and there was also an eWeek story [eweek.com] about Microsoft Office embracing XML.
  • by The OPTiCIAN (8190) on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @07:16PM (#5488861)
    I had hoped that Microsoft buying Corel would lead to its downfall. After all, that's what's happened to everyone else who has had wordperfect :) But at least they took a huge loss in the process.
  • by pyite69 (463042)

    Corel's Linux products, before the Microsoft investment were great. I'm
    talking about Wordperfect 7 and 8. Their Wine project had potential,
    but version 1 sucked. Unfortunately they didn't stick it out and release
    a 1.1 version - which would likely have ruled - due to Microsoft's
    influence.

  • Keep in mind that the most probable reason that Microsoft invested in Corel was to keep the FCC off their back since MS owns both Windows and Office.

    My two cents.

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