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Dropping Linux Helped Restore Corel Profitability 245

basotl writes "Newsforge is reporting that Corel attributes part of its financial comeback to dropping Corel Linux and its Linux office suite. Though they are not currently offering products for Linux, they are interested in prospect in the future." From the article: "Looking back, Brown describes the decision to drop Corel Linux as 'a successful strategy for Corel and an early step toward the refocusing of our business. At the time we knew that Corel's core focus was moving away from the operating system to concentrate more on our application offerings, and this would almost certainly have an impact on the level of service we could afford to customers and users of Corel Linux.' Nor, as a company struggling to regain profitability, was Corel inclined to try to develop the GNU/Linux market by continuing to support WordPerfect for Linux."
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Dropping Linux Helped Restore Corel Profitability

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  • Come again? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Rik Sweeney ( 471717 ) on Sunday July 02, 2006 @03:30AM (#15644930) Homepage
    There was a Corel Linux?
    • Re:Come again? (Score:4, Informative)

      by kihjin ( 866070 ) on Sunday July 02, 2006 @03:34AM (#15644934)
      Yes. Corel did release their own distribution of Linux called Corel LinuxOS []. Suffice to say it was not Corel's most successful venture.
      • by Burz ( 138833 ) on Sunday July 02, 2006 @03:49AM (#15644973) Homepage Journal
        From what I've heard, Xandros has been profitable the past couple years. They just released Version 4, Home Edition last week and a server product a few months before that.

        Corel had not only a Linux distro, but also their WordPerfect Office and Photopaint Linux apps as well. These apps are not sold or supported by Xandros.

        • oops, slahsdot removed the arrow in the parent's title...

          The Corel Linux product was sold to Xandros Inc and became Xandros Linux.
        • You're right about Xandros' success and Corel Linux was good, too. But Good doesn't mean it was a successful venture (i.e. profitable). In this case, Corel ended up discontinuing the software. Xandros took what Corel started and made it not only Good but Profitable.
          • made it not only Good but Profitable

            Profitable, perhaps, but Good? Have you ever tried to migrate an entire office from Windows to Xandors? Ever looked at their 'application' installer, which requires registration to install their hanful of 'premium' free gpl'ed and DEMO apps? Its a sham. The ONLY use for Xandros is the ability to join it to a domain and verify you are actually logging in under a domain under the initial login screen.

        • Corel had not only a Linux distro, but also their WordPerfect Office and Photopaint Linux apps as well. These apps are not sold or supported by Xandros.

          Photo-Paint 9 for LInux was and remains a free download. Corel Photo-Paint 9 []

        • I had just gotten hit with MS's WGA nagware in the past week.

          At that point I realized I had to make a decision, either send money to MS and stick with Windows. Or start getting serious about Linux.

          The software available for Windows is pretty sharp, but the OS is a rotten foundation. I've spent a lot of time wiping and reinstalling, fighting trojans, and being tech support for my friends and family.

          The Linux Desktop (Gnome or KDE) are getting more polished every year, but still not at the quality of Windows.
          • I had just gotten hit with MS's WGA nagware in the past week.

            At that point I realized I had to make a decision, either send money to MS and stick with Windows. Or start getting serious about Linux.

            So let's get this straight. You are pirating windows, but you have the money to go out and buy Xandros?

            • So let's get this straight. You are pirating windows, but you have the money to go out and buy Xandros?

              "At that point I realized I had to make a decision, either send money to MS and stick with Windows. Or start getting serious about Linux."

              See those words there? The part where I'm deciding to send money to MS or a Linux company?

              But to expand on why I haven't purchased a copy of Windows...

              I've built all my own PCs.

              Every time you install a new motherboard, you need to wipe and install so Windows will load th

      • Re:Come again? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by bunions ( 970377 )
        Suffice to say it was not Corel's most successful venture.

        and that's sayin' something.
      • It wasn't their most successful product, it was the first distribution based on Debian that I could figure out how to install, and it taught me how freaking cool apt-get really was.

        Also, you could play tetris while you were installing the operating system. I wish Xandros would put that back in...
    • There is a review [] of it back in 2000: "Rather well, as it ends up: better than any Linux to date, including Red Hat Linux." I personally never heard of it back then or since then.
      • Re:Come again? (Score:3, Informative)

        by arakon ( 97351 )
        I tried it out back in the day. I was at college and had free bandwidth and time to burn. It pretty much was the precursor to Xandros and Linspire(Lindows). Its main focus seemed to be on providing a uniform UI experience, which it did fairly well for the time period.
      • The reviewer was right, back then(for a time) it was by far the best desktop linux. Strange you did not hear about it, it was all over the news and generally Linux sites.

        Both the install and desktop was far slicker, and better put together then anything else at the time. Unfortunately it had a few not so good points too, like not having a collection good gui administrative tools. Making others like Mandrake a better choice for beginners. And the worst problem was from it's Debian heritage, it was based on
    • Re:Come again? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by peeping_Thomist ( 66678 ) on Sunday July 02, 2006 @04:04AM (#15645010)
      Don't you remember the Corel Linux informercials? A half-hour informercial extolling the virtues of Corel Linux and explaining how Corel was setting up the perfect alternative to Windows.

      I'm not making this up. If I recall correctly it ran many times on ZDTV back in the day. That and the Cue Cat one were my two favorite dotcom bubble infomercials.
    • Corel still exists? Have they produced anything since Corel Draw for Windows 3.11?

      That's one company that is going nowhere at record speed!

  • by MosesJones ( 55544 ) on Sunday July 02, 2006 @03:36AM (#15644938) Homepage
    Its saying that a company with desktop applications isn't going to make a profitable business selling those applications on Linux, nor should an application company sell its own OS as a core focus (they aren't big enough to be MS).

    Sensible chap.
    • Another lection... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by tmk ( 712144 )
      You can try to sell your own OS, but if you try, you have to do it right. CorelLinux had some good ideas, but it did not fit anybody's needs.

      Corel did stop on the half way. If the had partnered with some other companies (big software producers, hardware vendors...) they could have succeeded. Or if the put work and money to an existing distributions and projects like WINE.

    • No, they're saying that they don't think they can make a worthwhile profit yet, but they're keeping their eyes open for when the time is ripe. Their mistake before was perhaps that they were too soon on the scene. However, the longer they wait, the more they risk being too late.
    • I'd say it depends on the app. There are plenty of other choices out there for Office Suites, and Linux users are more likely to use Open Office or Abi Word. If you're offering a product in a market with a number of already-established players, then you need to really have something special to offer, especially if your competition is free to download. While the same might be said of the PC Office market, a tiny slice of that market is much bigger than a proportionate slice of the Linux market.

      However, if
      • You are missing the timescale. When WordPerfect for Linux was released, the only alternatives were StarOffice 5 (maybe 4?) which had a horrible UI and required registration to use it non-commercailly, and cost money for commercial use, and Applixware which was not even free for non-commercial use. OpenOffice wouldn't exist for another few years, and neither would AbiWord.

        At the time of the release, Word didn't completely own the word processor market; it had most of it, but mainly from WordPerfect swit

        • AbiWord was already around in 1999. Long before OpenOffice was (ie StarOffice became Open Source Software)
        • Actually the first Windows port of WordPerfect was far, far better than the Microsoft Word for Windows product of the time. it wasn't until 7.0 that WordPerfect began to suck. It's like they knew Microsoft Word stopped sucking and just gave up and handed the market to Microsoft.
          • The first Wordperfect for Linux was native. I think it was based on Wordperfect 6 but was quirky like many other Unix apps. It was even based on Motif.

            Wordperfect 8 was reqlly quite nice. It was major improvement of Word97. Quattro Pro was equal to Excel97. The Corel Presentation software was adequate and compared favorably to Powerpoint97. The problem was Outlook and Access. Then Office 2000 came out and Wordperfect 10 was not as good as Wordperfect 8. Unfortunately, Wordperfect 10 was ported to Li
    • Not so much that the Linux destkop isn't profitable entirely, I think, but that the Windows market was far more profitable. $1 million to put into the Windows development would probably have had a far higher return than putting it into the Linux development, due to increasing the marketshare. Given this, if a company is in trouble it seems only natural to drop the support for Linux and focus more on getting more Windows customers.
    • I have used word perfect since WP 4.2 in the bad old DOS days, I skipped the whole windows thing, ran WP on OS/2 and then switched to Linux in about 1997 and started using word perfect for unix and then WP for Linux v. 7 and then v. 8. I fell in love with version 8. When Corel announced they were going to port their office suit to linux, I signed on as a Beta tester, and bought the first release.

      However, the office suit was a port using wine, and it stank. Not only was it difficult to install and unstable,
  • by bmo ( 77928 ) on Sunday July 02, 2006 @03:37AM (#15644944)
    Of course, Microsoft had nothing to do with it when they threw money at Corel, and when Corel stopped making WordPerfect for Linux, they promptly divested. /cough/spit/

    Corel Linux was a mistake, when they could have simply continued to sell WP for Linux (I still have the boxed set for 8.0!). It's not like they didn't have an existing code base that worked in X.

    As much as I like WP, if they come up with yet another Wine based WP instead of native, I and a lot of others will simply stay away in droves.

  • Who would have thought the massive payoffs from Microsoft to drop Linux support would make them more profitable?
  • by NRAdude ( 166969 ) on Sunday July 02, 2006 @03:40AM (#15644951) Homepage Journal
    Does none remember that Corel was bought by Microsoft? [] Does Microsoft not have a controlling-interest in Corel [] process and operations? So they dropped their Linux offers and claim to have regained value, yet have not the common courtesy [] to refer to Linux as a service-oriented technology? Sure Linux is a liability if the company doesn't use it for a profitable purpose. Business-101 isn't what Corel needs, because it is evident propoganda Microsoft directs through its subsidiaries it buys into. This is no different than how Microsoft inducted SCO to harass and issue false titles and false claim to Intellectual Property owners in competition.
  • Makes sense (Score:4, Insightful)

    by dn15 ( 735502 ) on Sunday July 02, 2006 @03:44AM (#15644959)
    A company that targets a niche market may have less opportunities to make lots of money than one that targets the mass market. Obviously this is not always true. However, it is going to be a serious consideration for some companies when choosing a platform/market/whatever.

    Disclaimer: I use a Mac daily and certainly appreciate niche markets. But the fact remains that a product catering to a niche may not always be as profitable.
    • A company that targets a niche market may have less opportunities to make lots of money than one that targets the mass market.

      And there may be more opportunities to make lots of money. Corel was targetting both M$Windows (mass) and Linux (niche).

      Obviously this is not always true. However, it is going to be a serious consideration for some companies when choosing a platform/market/whatever.

      That's a one-sided way of looking at it. Mass, commodity markets have more and bigger competitors. Niche market

  • Financial liability (Score:4, Interesting)

    by kihjin ( 866070 ) on Sunday July 02, 2006 @03:46AM (#15644966)
    Four years ago, Corel shutdown their OSS site [] and now they are seeing a return to stability. While it is debatable whether their OSS division was the direct cause of financial hardship, it certainly seems to have been a factor.

    It would be good if Corel made a return to OSS, but I don't think it'll happen any time soon. If it does, I don't expect it to be nearly the same scale. Then again, GNU/Linux is expected to take over the world in 10 years, so who knows :)
    • Then again, GNU/Linux is expected to take over the world in 10 years, so who knows :)

      That's what I heard 10 years ago. I think next Friday is the D-Day.
    • Four years ago, Corel shutdown their OSS site and now they are seeing a return to stability. While it is debatable whether their OSS division was the direct cause of financial hardship, it certainly seems to have been a factor.

      This is a good point. People often seem to expect that FOSS is always a good venture for a business; it may not be. FOSS businesses have to handle themselves in a very careful way, and they have a business model that is a bit innovative and different.

      They seemed to be not quite
      • Investing in F/OSS is almost always good for your business. The main exception is if your business is off-the-shelf software. If your business is bespoke software, then you can profit from not having to re-invent the wheel to give your customers what they want; just add a spoke or two. If software is not core to your business, then using F/OSS and paying a small amount of the development cost reduces your dependency on other companies and allows you to control (well, influence) the future direction of th
  • WTF? (Score:5, Funny)

    by bky1701 ( 979071 ) on Sunday July 02, 2006 @03:54AM (#15644987) Homepage
    We have a Corel icon?
  • by wysiwia ( 932559 ) on Sunday July 02, 2006 @03:55AM (#15644988) Homepage
    How can anybody base his ordinary software on Wine. Wine is an emergency solution which should only be used to bring your desperately needed third party product to run on Linux for a limited time but never ever to sell your product. Any Wine application is still an ordinary Windows application following the Windows design and UI guidelines.

    Just go back and look at the discussion about Google's Picasa here at Slashdot. No sensible person is satisfied with it, all it achieves is showing Google's incompetence to produce real Linux applications. Releasing a Wine solution just shows that Google capitulated from being able to build ordinary Linux applications.

    Yet Corel doesn't do better than Google or any of the other vendors who don't sell Linux applications, they all don't know how to do cross-platform development efficiently. It's completely understandable that none want to pay for a second development line for a platform which hasn't more than a few percents market share. But this isn't needed if you do your development in true cross-platform development fashion (see wyoGuide).

    But may we throw stones at the commercial vendors when we, the OpenSource community don't do better. Beside Mozilla and to some extend OpenOffice there isn't many true cross-platform application either. Please don't say an application is cross-platform when it builds or runs, it's only cross-platform when it's also used. That means when an application is sellable or is able to get above 10% market share.

    O. Wyss
    • by masklinn ( 823351 ) < l i n n . n et> on Sunday July 02, 2006 @04:00AM (#15644998)

      Just go back and look at the discussion about Google's Picasa here at Slashdot. No sensible person is satisfied with it, all it achieves is showing Google's incompetence to produce real Linux applications. Releasing a Wine solution just shows that Google capitulated from being able to build ordinary Linux applications.

      It's more like they don't care that much about linux for these kinds of applications.

      If they were utterly unable to produce "real" linux applications, they wouldn't have released Google Earth 4 on Linux, and it wouldn't run better than in Windows.

      • ... released Google Earth 4 on Linux ...

        Google doesn't release SW on Linux only to get users and customers, they also release them for their image as the white knight. Yet Picasa quite obviously hurts this image. Besides I bet Google Earth for Linux is a complete new development tree, meaning they have paid for it twice. Google may be able to do that but others have to earn money with their products.

        O. Wyss
        • Google Earth is a cross-platform codebase written using Qt, apparently. Don't know why it took them so long to port it..
          • Third party library dependencies can old you off. There are a lot of these in Google Earth, and who knows what they have access to: source or binaries.

            Or just willing to do so. If I remember, Google Earth started as a employee personnal project (remember, Google employees can spend 20% of their work time on personnal project, even Open Source).
      • Actually, they contracted out to someone that ports games to Linux. Read [] for more information. You should really be thankful for people like Ryan. =)
    • How can anybody base his ordinary software on Wine. [...] Any Wine application is still an ordinary Windows application following the Windows design and UI guidelines.

      Because the Windows design and UI guidelines aren't actually that bad, and it's not like there's a single consistent UI that people expect their X11 applications to use. Seriously: if they move to native X, should they be using GTK, QT, Motif, or some other (presumably lighter-weight) toolkit? Why not use winelib as an X toolkit? It certain
    • by IamTheRealMike ( 537420 ) on Sunday July 02, 2006 @08:13AM (#15645385)
      Any Wine application is still an ordinary Windows application following the Windows design and UI guidelines.

      This isn't correct. I didn't work on the Picasa port very much but had access to its internal development for a while. I can't give many details for all the usual reasons, but I hate to see Wine trashed like this in public.

      The first thing you should know is that we did actually have a GTK2 based version of Picasa up and running at one point. I wrote a bunch of patches to give it some simple native UI that followed the GNOME HIG. It was still running on top of Wine but had some dialog boxes/windows and the file picker using GTK2 and not Wines own versions. In the end it didn't make sense to roll with that for this version, but there's no fundamental reason why a Wine based app should look or feel different to a native app. If you want to port your app to Linux and have it look and feel like the most native open source program there is, it can be done. Just ask for it. Most of the programs ported using Wine don't have this because, well, the companies paying for the work didn't really feel it was worth the time and cost.

      Just go back and look at the discussion about Google's Picasa here at Slashdot. No sensible person is satisfied with it, all it achieves is showing Google's incompetence to produce real Linux applications. Releasing a Wine solution just shows that Google capitulated from being able to build ordinary Linux applications.

      This is clearly not true, many people have written positive reviews of Picasa for Linux. Remember that this is an app that largely uses its own UI toolkit anyway, so it doesn't look native on any platform, not even Windows. It certainly has nothing to do with "incompetence" - the fact that Picasa has far, far more OS-dependent features than Google Earth was a big reason, so a lot more time would have to have been spent rewriting its features like screensaver/movie creation, blog integration, photo upload, file monitoring, and probably more I've forgotten. Picasa does a ton of stuff. Google Earth was also already based on Qt whereas Picasa was not.

      The sad truth is that Win32 is so deeply embedded in most apps that they will never be natively ported. Ever. Once you have seen the code to many well established commercial/proprietary apps, you will accept this fundamental truth and see things in a different light. To be portable, an app usually has to be written that way from the start or a huge amount of work will be involved to make it so later. Work that is hardly ever economic to do.

      It's for this reason that Wine is crucial. It got a bad rap due to the very old WordPerfect port but that was then and this is now - modern apps that run on a commercially supported Wine (most of which are not consumer apps so you won't encounter them) are rock solid and fast. Usually they don't look native because rewriting the entire GUI of a complex scientific application or internal accountancy package just makes no sense at all. But again that's not some fundamental thing, it's just a matter of economics.

    • so you haven't seen AbiWord.
  • by timeOday ( 582209 ) on Sunday July 02, 2006 @04:00AM (#15644999)
    ...Corel dropping their Linux distro also improved the average quality of Linux distros! Everybody wins.
    • Re:Oddly Enough... (Score:3, Informative)

      by Xtifr ( 1323 )
      Actually, I think the disappearance of Caldera (SCO) Linux at around the same time (more or less) was probably a much bigger factor. ;)

      Corel Linux was based on Debian, and as a member of the Debian project, I must say that Corel had some...unusual questions for us during that time. There was definitely something of a culture clash between the people working on Corel Linux and, well, everyone else involved with Debian. Still, I think it was an interesting project. Not something I'd want to use, but interes
  • by Vo0k ( 760020 ) on Sunday July 02, 2006 @04:32AM (#15645064) Journal
    ...if they released Corel Draw for Linux.
    Inkscape doesn't live up to the needs of the market. There is simply NO good vector drawing program for Linux. Meantime there's a great office package and lots of distributions. Corel can't hope to make much profit with such a competition, but pushing Corel Draw they would pretty much leave the others behind.
    • They did release it (altough using Wine). []
    • "...if they released Corel Draw for Linux."

      Oh gawd no. Corel borged my favorite company, JASC, and as a result Paint Shop Pro* has gone off my list of must-have programs. They've ruined it.

      *The only graphics program I've ever seen with an even smarter UI than PSP was an icon editor named Microangelo. It was a little jewel of a program -- for example, with most other programs when you use the color picker you have to go back and pick your paintbrush (or line tool, or floodfill) again. Microangelo would

      • True. Microangelo was the greatest icon editor ever. And I agree, PSP's interface used to be far superior in termy of intuitive accessibility to programs like Photoshop. Photoshop was like Emacs, powerful but incomprehensible to the novice. PSP didn't do as much as PS, but it did it well and in an intuitive fashion (in fact, I still prefer it over Inkscape for vectoring).

        Too bad PSP8+ was turned into an uninspired Photoshop clone, complete with too long loading time and horrible interface. Maybe we could
    • Inkscape doesn't live up to the needs of the market. There is simply NO good vector drawing program for Linux.

      Could you substantiate this claim? What exactly does Inkscape not do that makes Corel draw irreplacable in your eyes? (That way I can get it added ;)
      • by Haeleth ( 414428 ) on Sunday July 02, 2006 @08:07AM (#15645374) Journal
        What exactly does Inkscape not do that makes Corel draw irreplacable in your eyes? (That way I can get it added ;)

        Well, first and foremost, some flipping documentation would be nice. When I go into the "Help" menu in Inkscape, I get a basic keyboard reference and some links to online tutorials. What I want is a reference that actually describes the options and tools available.

        Okay, so here are some random features I use every day in CorelDraw that Inkscape appears not to provide:
        • Multi-page layouts (to be fair, Illustrator also lacks this feature)
        • Support for vertical Japanese text. (Inkscape claims to support this, but fails miserably to position punctuation correctly.)
        • Ability to export to TIFF (in CMYK) and JPEG.
        • Ability to convert vector objects to embedded bitmaps.
        • CMYK support.
        • Pantone CMS support.
        • Any colour management support at all, in fact.

        I can't be bothered to look further, as it's already clear that it does not even come close to satisfying my requirements at this time.

        Which is really not surprising, because Inkscape's own developers have made it perfectly clear that they are not interested in competing with CorelDraw and Illustrator. They are setting out to make the best SVG editor for Web graphics, not to compete in the commercial publishing world. I don't know why people are so desperate to make out that the program competes in markets it's not even intended for.
        • by Haeleth ( 414428 ) on Sunday July 02, 2006 @08:15AM (#15645389) Journal
          Replying to myself = bad, sure, but I think I must clarify what I meant when I said Inkscape does not support CMYK, before some fanboy tells me about the CMYK tab in the colour selection dialog box.

          Try using that tab to specify the standard colour Pantone DE 321-3 C (C60 M90 Y100 K30). I can't. It keeps changing the values I've already input. This is, so far as I can tell, because Inkscape stores RGB internally and does not even attempt to support any other colour model; so when I input a CMYK value, it converts my input to RGB, then converts it back to CMYK to show me. Oops, it's not a clean round-trip conversion. So some perfectly standard colours are completely impossible to specify in Inkscape.

          This alone makes Inkscape completely useless for anyone working for print rather than the screen. Equally, it's not a problem in the slightest for anyone working on web graphics, which is why it's not a problem with Inkscape at all, because Inkscape is aimed at the web market not the print market.
          • You should probably also note that even if the roundtrip were clean as far as remembering the black level, CYMK and SVG's native sRGB color space have different gamuts -- some colors representable in one aren't representable in the other and vice-versa.

            However, it is possible that we might eventually be able to support specifying spot or process colors via SVG's icc-color() construct (which SVG allows you to specify alongside an sRGB color) -- we've just got to do a lot of architectural work first (the begi
        • Some more really major features Illustrator has but Inkscape, etc. do not:

          * Layer effects
          * Proper exporting to PDF, eps, etc. (try exporting with the alpha channel intact! Solution: export to a raster format then convert elsewhere. Ugh.)
          * an intuitive layer palette
          * Nested layers (this comes in VERY handy)
          • FYI...

            I believe alpha channel for PDF export has been fixed for 0.44, though there are still some rough areas like text handling and font subsetting that need to be addressed. We can't really do alpha in EPS since Postscript doesn't support it, and in fact the problem with our original PDF export was that it used EPS as an intermediate representation.

            With regard to layers, 0.44 has also introduced a layer palette and UI support for nested layers (the underlying codebase has supported nested layers since la
            • Wow thanks for the explanation, so now .43's (very) broken PDF export makes total sense. I need to upgrade to .44 because emailing rasterized-then-PDFed documents isn't an ideal situation. I'll definitely have to check out the layer palette as well. =) Thanks for the info. One thing that frustrated me in the interface is that I always, ALWAYS forget where to set opacity, because I'm still coming at it from an Adobe CS frame of mind, and Gimp works in a similar way when it comes to layers. I just checked
        • As far as support for multipage documents goes, we will have to support multipage documents once SVG does (it's a feature slated for SVG 1.2, which hasn't been finalized yet). Until then we're sticking to the released versions of the SVG standard for the most part.

          As far as documentation goes, we do have a manual [], but I can't blame you for not knowing about it, given there's no option for it in the help menu. We need to decide what we're going to do with it really -- integrate it in the app, or shell out
    • I use Inkscape almost every day at work to produce publication-quality illustrations, and last versions are perfectly fit for the work. The only thing I'd love would be a better compatibility with Illustrator files (since many collegues use it, and it's a pain to ask all of them to export to SVG, which doesn't work everytime because the Illustrator SVG export is crap).
      Of course YMMV.
    • by aussersterne ( 212916 ) on Sunday July 02, 2006 @10:54AM (#15645751) Homepage
      Wow, I guess nobody remembers all that went down back then. I suppose it *WAS* a few years ago. I have boxed retail versions of all of these sitting here:

      - CorelDRAW 9 and PhotoPaint 9 for Linux
      - WordPerfect Office 2000 Deluxe for Linux ("Deluxe" version came with Paradox for Linux)
      - WordPerfect 8.0 for Linux
      - Corel Linux (several versions)

      This was ~6-7 years ago now. There were no real top-quality application suites for Linux at the time. Linux had been riding the "dot com bubble" wave, but it had meant lots of investment in the OS and distros, not nearly enough in applications. The buzz was that all Linux needed was a good set of applications to grab a big chunk of OS market share, and amongst the Linux user base, there was a lot of drool for a good set of applications that would "finally" let people get all of their work done on Linux.

      There was no OpenOffice yet, GIMP was far behind where it is today, and the body of KDE and GNOME applications was much smaller.

      Corel had announced that they were working on Linux versions of their major applications suites and abandoning the beta Java-based versions of the major suites that had been floating around (yes I downloaded and tried WordPerfect Office for Java, it did exist). Reviewers were waiting for copies and the Linux news sites were watching with excitement for the first "big name" consumer applications to come to Linux. WordPerfect 8 for Linux, a native X application, was already available as a free download for the personal version and was driving interest for the "modern" versions of the complete suite and for the CorelDRAW suite as well.

      Corel could have done very well and beaten everyone else to the game in the Linux market.

      Instead, they released bad software. WordPerfect 2000 for Linux came out first and was, to put it simply, so frustratingly close to a usable product that it pissed you off. The box (I have it here) says that it is "Compatible with every major Linux distribution." I ran it under Red Hat. You could see the "full fledged powerful big-name office suite" everywhere in the product--it looked and worked just like the Windows version--except it didn't work. It was crash-happy, didn't integrate with anything except one version of LPRng and a very narrow subset of the /etc/printcap file's properties, it didn't play nice with window managers (in particular, KDE's kwin, where you couldn't get windows to take focus properly). It wasn't compatible with the way most distributions had configured XFree86 because it tried to install its own proprietary TrueType font server, which fought with xfs for the same port and didn't simply try to set and add to the fontpath a new port. The launch scripts it used were poorly constructed and required hand-editing on many systems to get them to work right. The installer itself didn't work on a percentage of Linux systems.

      Corel released one update which solved some of these problems, but the initial buzz was horrible--probably 80% of the buyers, who were dot-com-bubble-era Linux converts ("the next big thing" newbies), couldn't get it to run right and the solutions were often second best (here's how to edit your X configuration... here's a text-mode installer for you instead... here's how to edit the launcher script so that it doesn't crash on launch). Those of us who did know enough to get it running (fix /etc/printcap, install update, edit X font settings) were frustrated because so much of the press around the product was *horrible* because it simply didn't work as advertised *yet* and it was clear that if they'd just waited and continued development until it was stable, they'd have beaten the rest of the market to a growing Linux customer base and at the same time made available a desperately needed product.

      Once you got it running correctly, it was near-excellent, but with showstoppers. I wrote two books and and a pile of papers with WordPerfect Office 2000 for Linux and used the MS Office import/export filters he
  • I fail to understand why a company such as Corel carries on plugging away at it when it would seem (to me at least) to be far more sensible just to sell its remaining assets to someone else and close up shop. Is it just the brand that keeps them going? Who buys their products? I didn't even know they still existed.
  • by zarlino ( 985890 ) on Sunday July 02, 2006 @04:41AM (#15645082) Homepage
    With Free applications getting better and better the chance to sell word processors and graphics applications on the Linux platform is vanishing. Corel Draw and Word Perfect could have made a big difference years ago, but now they are irrelevant. Corel (and also Adobe) failed to acquire a profitable market. Now it's the time for audio applications, but I suppose ISVs will wakeup in a few years just to find out there is already some open source Cubase-killer.
  • If only CorelDraw, PhotoPaint, and Painter were available for Linux. CorelDraw is still my favourite vector package and I hate all of the ones available for Linux, especially because they're so gnome-ie. Xara might turn out good, though, even with the horrible GTK file dialogs.

    And don't even get me started on the state and direction of GIMP these days.
  • by Yaztromo ( 655250 ) on Sunday July 02, 2006 @05:50AM (#15645168) Homepage Journal

    Corel's problem was that it lost pretty much all focus somewhere around the mid 1990's. Their strength was with CorelDraw, but by the mid 1990's they were trying to sell a mini Linux computer called the NetWinder [] (I remember playing with one of the developer units -- they were actually pretty slick little machines, which IMO weren't matched until Apple released the Mac mini), bought out WordPerfect, tried their hand at a pure Java Office Suite, and tried their hand at their own Linux distro. In effect, they had no sense of cohesion -- they seemed to be trying their hand at any crazy project that came around.

    Linux wasn't the problem. Linux just happened to be one of the many things they played with during this time. At the same time, they let their original core business stagnate, allowing other competitors in the graphic software business to catch up and surpass them while they wasted resources on all of these other projects.

    Part of the "problem" to my mind was Corel's original intent: to be Michael Cowpland own personal research labs ("Corel" == "Cowpland Research Lab"). From a technology standpoint I have to applaud them for the things they tried to do -- the Java Office suite wasn't as bad as many people made it out to be (the beta generally ran well on my OS/2 box at the time), and could have been a vehicle which could have (and I suspect did) push improvements in Java's areas of deficiency at the time. The NetWinder was a really slick and ultra-portable Linux computer that ran on an ARM processor (we had one of the development units at an ISP I worked at in the mid 90's that we were thinking of selling as co-located servers; sound familiar?). Their Linux distro was decent and capable. But in the end they spread themselves too far, and couldn't really find (or build) markets for these products. Their core business got chewed up by the likes of Adobe, Microsoft already had a lock on the Office and OS segments, and in the end only hobbiests were interested in an ARM-based Linux computer that had limited natively compiled software available for it (you often had to build the software you wanted to run that wasn't included with the system yourself, at least in the early days -- great for hobbiests and techies, but not exactly a recipe for mass-market appeal. However, I am still of the opinion that the NetWinders failure was really that the concept was ahead of its time). And a Java-based Office suite didn't interest much of anyone from a commercial perspective (although many of the parties involved in the push towards thin clients were very interested in the outcome of code of this sort, and I personally think that it's only a matter of time, although in the end AJAX may be a better solution than Java (ref: Google Spreadsheets)).

    Linux just happened to be one of Corel's targets. I don't think Linux itself had anything to do with Corel's problems -- it just happened to be one of the things that distracted them from their core business, and never did in any way that earned them any real market distinctions. Corel's problem was a lack of focus and spreading themselves way too thin while virtually ignoring what made their mark on the industry in the first place, allowing their competition to surpass them.


  • I guess Microsoft could've helped the bottom line by killing off the Xbox division. That thing was leaking money like a sieve.

    Corel either wanted the magic pixie dust of Free software to automagically fix their dumbass business model or they were looking to get some blackmail money from Microsoft. They got the money and dump Linux like a hot potato.

  • This is a great example of how corporations do better when they stay focused on their core strengths. There are many reasons why Adobe does so well vs. Corel, the primary one being quality. Adobe builds great products because they are focused. Adobe never tried getting into the OS business; it is completely unrelated to their area of expertise. A viable business cannot be everything to everybody and should be very careful when expanding their product line. My company builds collaboration software. That
  • []

    I didn't rtfm, but was Laura Dildo mentioned in it?
  • I was one of the unfortunate soles we purchased a copy of Corel office for Linux, and it was absolutely unusable. It would typically run for maybe 15 minutes before crashing, sometimes completely locking up the system. Clearly, it was a great example of where the marketers were way ahead of the programmers, and as a result a poorly integrated version of Corel Office for windows bolted to WINE was released that was at best software in the alpha stage.

    One the flip side, Corel Wordperfect for Unix actually

  • Complete Bullshit (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jasonditz ( 597385 ) on Sunday July 02, 2006 @11:07AM (#15645796) Homepage
    As a former Corel investor, this whole thing is bullshit. Corel dropped Linux and still wasn't anywhere near profitable for years afterwards.

    Corel Linux was a symptom of a problem a lot of companies faced that time, that a buzzword compliant release of a product few wanted or needed was a great way to get attention on Wall Street.

    Corel's problems go all the way back to 1996, when they bought the word processor that Novell had been running into the ground. Has anyone ever used the last Novell WordPerfect for Windows? It's not a pretty sight. The only value left in WordPerfect was the name, and Novell had already done major damage to it. It took Corel years to have anything resembling a usable Office-competitor.

    Things got so bad that Microsoft had to pour millions into them to keep them afloat for the sake of avoiding anti-trust.

    When Burney came on board, he pissed away so much money on marketing, it's only by the grace of the quality of their developers that the company survived at all. They made a few nice acquisitions to their imaging portfolio, but then came up with crap like Deepwhite. Their marketing department was dreadful. Does anyone else remember the controversy when the box art for one of their major imaging programs... a program that's supposed to be designed for advertising companies for Godssake, had emblazoned on it that the box art was made using Adobe Illustrator?

    The rescue of the company came when they started getting smart and selling a trimmed down WP suite to OEM makers to pack-in with their new systems. Their imaging software was starting to recover a little from the Adobe fiasco. Then Vector Capital came along and snapped up the company at an almost insultingly low price.
  • Corel has no future. Corel is dead. Corel died when Micheal Cowpland resigned over that ridiculous insider trading fiasco. They haven't even been in the local news ever since, and people have all but forgotten Wordperfect and more importantly Corel Draw, two products that were the bread and butter of computer professionals in the 80's and 90's. Back then, MS Office was "the buggy one", the inflexible one.. well MS Office hasn't evolved all that much, certainly doesn't appeal to power users the way Word
  • by NynexNinja ( 379583 ) on Monday July 03, 2006 @11:14AM (#15650153)
    Hard to compete with "vi" editor?

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