WordPerfect: Limping Boldly Forward

by Jay Reeves on

TypewriterAn upgraded version of WordPerfect – once the word processing program of choice for lawyers – was released recently.

The news was met with a thunderous and collective yawn.

Pretty much nobody uses WordPerfect anymore. Its worldwide market share in 2010 was a measly four percent. Perhaps you weren’t even aware it was still around.

It was not always so. Back in the day, everyone with the letters JD after their name knew about WordPerfect and most of them were using it. Arriving in 1980, the versatile word processing package quickly became the top choice for lawyers. It had features – for litigation, pleadings and document revision – designed specifically for law firms.

Even in the 1990s, as it yielded to the juggernaut that was Microsoft Word, it retained its reputation as a better product for big firms. By the new millennium, however, even its loyal lawyer base had all but disappeared.

It is likely, therefore, that the only people excited about the arrival of Corel WordPerfect Office X6 are sentimental softies who pine for the days of parchment scrolls and quill pens – plus a smattering of lawyers who want to keep a version handy for opening files saved in the old format.

For the rest of us, there are lessons to be learned from the passage of WordPerfect into the brontosaurus boneyard:

  • Technology is fickle. What’s hot today might be ice-cold tomorrow. Smart practitioners recognize this before investing in new tools and training.
  • Be sure you will be able to access your archives in the future. You never know when it might be important to dig into a closed file. Finding it in a format as inaccessible as ancient Sanskrit would be a major downer.
  • Never give up. In a spasm of delusional optimism – or perhaps simply a nostalgic nod to the glory days – WordPerfect is even offering a special Legal Edition of Office X6, with bells and whistles added just for lawyers. Available for $379.99 by download only.

All of which raises the question: if a software program launches but nobody is watching, does it even leave the ground?

Photo creditflakepardigm

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