June 22, 2004

An open letter to Corel

Author: Benjamin Horst

On the occasion of the release of WordPerfect for Linux, we would like
to extend Corel Corp. a hearty welcome to the growing desktop market!
Corel has a history of working with Linux and helping to advance the
use of Linux on the desktop and in the business world, so we find this
new release of one of your flagship products to be a very significant
and positive event. Your gutsy move to port WordPerfect to Linux places the company at the intersection of smart business strategy and doing what is best for
the global community of infocentric citizens. However, if we could make just one request?

The open source world owes much of its success to the establishment and
maintenance of standards of interoperability across hardware and
software platforms and products. Currently, one of our greatest efforts
is to extend this practice of open standards to the venerable office
suite document file formats, by rallying around the OASIS committee and
its recommended formats (originally developed by the OpenOffice.org
project). OASIS members already include Corel, KDE, and many other
respected groups. Most are moving their products toward compatibility
with (or even better, default use of) the OASIS file formats.
OpenOffice.org is the leader in this movement, while KOffice, AbiWord,
and others are following close behind.

Compatibility has always been an important consideration in this market, yet with one giant company's fickle control so powerfully exercised, there has been little
that anyone could do to advance the state of the technology. A new and
committed coalition working toward a common, universal,
openly documented file format is the only option for salvaging this
market and freeing those who wish to compete in it. Corel is
one of the heavyweights in the field, and we need your involvement if
we are to succeed in this Operation Office Liberation!

We hereby request that Corel adopt the OASIS file formats as the default for
WordPerfect and its software suite. Corel (along with all other users
of the same open file formats) would stand much to gain from offering such
interoperability. At the same time, Corel has
nothing to fear -- it has always been a company to compete
on the merits of its products, not artificial file format lock-in
barriers to interoperability. This is why WordPerfect users are among
the most fiercely loyal users of any software product anywhere.

Blow off the doors of the file format prison, and the only
one to lament is the jailer! Current OASIS format supporters have got
the dynamite, Corel, and all we need is for you to light the fuse!

A house divided against itself cannot stand, but when many
independent-minded people unite behind a common standard,
no opponent can barricade them from success. Re-establishing
competition in the office suite market will allow Corel,
OpenOffice.org, KOffice, AbiWord, and other contributors to gain
market share in the free market.
Software users the world over will awaken to the possibility of choice,
and the quality of your product, long renowned, will once again be the
right and proper ticket to sustainable success.

Benjamin Horst has been a volunteer marketer with the OpenOffice.org
project for a year. He is a graduate of Vassar College and Harvard Design
School, currently living in Los Angeles and working on
www.SolidOffice.com and www.VassarChat.com. His first book,
The Tiny
Guide to OpenOffice.org, will be available from Hentzenwerke
Publishing in July.

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