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Retrenchment At Word Perfect Corp

Following is a provocative RelayNet msg regarding the cancellation by Word
Perfect Corporation of further development work on OS/2|Unix|etc versions of
Word Perfect. WP 5.2 was ported to 16-bit OS/2 using Micrografx Mirrors; the
result was buggy & has bombed in the marketplace; a promised "ground up" 32-bit
OS/2 WP v6.0 was among the work cancelled. There are several unspoken,
underlying ideas here. One is that WPC is trimming its financial statements in
preparation for a public offering. Another is that WPC is experiencing trouble
because of deliberate Microsoft "gotchas" in the Windows API, which led to
marketplace failure for recent WPC products, which led to negative numbers. A
third is that WPC has finally realized that MSWord works better than WordPerf.


Msg 39997  11-24-93  10:28 To: ALL From: JAMES HIMMELMAN Subject:

The following message was posted in the WordPerfect Echo by Bob Germer, who is
the Echo Moderator (I think) and who has extensive contacts within the
Wordperfect Corporation:

≪ Sadly, it is true that WP has cancelled development of 6.0 for
OS/2. I had a long talk (more than an hour on my dime) with two different
people well up in the organization.

It seems that WordPerfect went to IBM and asked for development money to
continue development of the product. IBM declined. So, WPC decided to abandon
the operating system.

I got the usual corporate pap about cost of development vs. potential market,
etc. at first, but when I got up to the executive level, I got more truth than

It seems that WPC made a bad move with its 5.1 for Windows which cost a bundle
in free upgrades to 5.2 for Windows which wasn't much better. That forced a
crash effort to release 6.0 which is slower yet than 5.2 and just as buggy.
(Can you say UAE?)

In the process, WPC lost much of its market share, especially in the Windows
area. Also, they are firmly entrenched in the "my wordprocessor can do more
than your wordprocessor" wars with MicroSoft et al.

There are definitely signs that WP is hurting for cash. They are farming out
technical support and clear signs point to abandonment of toll free support in
the near term future. All support for some platforms has been abandoned with
more evidently to come.

I pointed out to these folks that not everyone wants or needs all the bells and
whistles of a 6.0. Many would prefer the speed of 5.1 and that 5.1 should still
be marketed. That was seen as a strange idea since 6.0 "is so much more feature

I asked about the moral responsibility WPC had to those OS/2 users who received
brochures, press releases, etc. regarding 6.0 for OS/2, OS2/2 Office, etc. and
who delayed upgrading their software waiting for the native release. I was told
that the bottom line was more important!

It seems that WP sales have dropped rapidly since the 5.1 Windows release with
WPWIN (all versions) lagging behind other products. They complained bitterly
that with MicroSoft providing Word for Windows to bundlers for as little as $10
per copy, they had to devote their "limited resources" to keeping market share
and couldn't afford the development costs associated with multiple platform

Not only is OS/2 being abandoned but development of the Unix, Vax, and other
operating systems as well from what I gather. They admitted that they have lost
several major financial accounts to AmiPro or Describe inasmuch as OS/2 has
made vast inroads in the banking community. I asked if they had noticed the
same trend in the insurance industry and got a halfhearted admission that they
had lost an account or two.

I asked if they realized that Novell based networks cannot run Windows NT and
that this has pushed many mid-sized companies toward OS/2 for their high end
machines. I was told that they were aware of that but felt that people would
drop Novell for other LAN platforms so they could continue to run Windows
rather than switch from DOS to OS/2.

I asked what they thought would happen when the Taligent project reaches market
in mid-1994 with its multi-platform operating system capable of running on
Intel, Motorola, and RISC hardware with a common kernel and interface all based
on the OS/2 kernel. The answer was "hopefully Windows will be supported on
those platforms".

It also seems that several people active in the development and marketing of
the OS/2 products have been summarily fired. WPC won't confirm that, but Rich
Running and several others I knew either personally or via phone are no longer
there, all at once!

The overall impression I gleaned was that of a company in serious financial
difficulty with no clear vision or planning beyond the next quarter. I got the
clear impression that WPC was in turmoil internally with more than a handful of
long time employees "pursuing other career objectives".

The bottom line is that for the first time in 11 years, I will be looking
seriously at competitive products. As much as I love WP, I want and need native
support for my operating system. The horrid 5.2 port is not satisfactory.

I am not a happy camper.

Bob Germer ≪< End of Bob Germer Message ≫>

 * MR/2 PM 0.99h #103 *