Among the remaining avid users of WordPerfect are many and academics, who favor WordPerfect features such as macros, reveal codes, and the ability to access a large range of formatting options such as left-right block indent directly with key combinations rather than having to click through several layers of submenus as Microsoft Word often requires, the fact that the user interface has stayed almost identical from WPWin 6 through WP X5 (2010) and that file formats have not changed, as incompatible new formats would require keeping both obsolete software versions and obsolete hardware around just to access a few old documents. Corel now caters to these markets, with, for example, a major sale to the in 2005. A related factor is that WordPerfect Corporation was particularly responsive to feature requests from the legal profession, incorporating many features particularly useful to that niche market and those features have been continued in subsequent versions usually directly accessible with key combinations.
In fact, enabling applications from various software developers to work together on every platform was part of the Novell strategy. Novell had acquired WordPerfect for Windows from WordPerfect Corporation, Paradox from Borland, and various peripheral utilities from other companies and had started to evangelize the Novell 'middleware' - Appware - as a means for others to run their programs on every operating system. This 'middleware' strategy would make software vendors and customers independent from operating system vendors, like Microsoft, thus posing a real threat.
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WordPerfect was originally produced by Bruce Bastian and Dr. Alan Ashton who founded Satellite Software International, Inc. of Orem, Utah, which later renamed itself WordPerfect Corporation. Originally written for Data General minicomputers, in 1982 the developers ported the program to the IBM PC as WordPerfect 2.20, continuing the version numbering of the Data General series.
The program's popularity took off with the introduction of WordPerfect 4.2 in 1986, with automatic paragraph numbering (important to the law office market), and the splitting of a lengthy footnote and its partial overflow to the bottom of the next page, as if it had been professionally typeset (valuable to both the law office and academic markets). WordPerfect 4.2 became the first program to overtake the original microcomputer word processor market leader, WordStar, in a major application category on the DOS platform.
In 1989, WordPerfect Corporation released the program's most successful version ever, WordPerfect 5.1 for DOS, which was the first version to include Macintosh style pull-down menus to supplement the traditional F-key combinations, as well as support for tables, a spreadsheet-like feature. The data format used by WordPerfect 5.1 was, for years, the most portable format in the world. All word processors could read (and convert) that format. Many conferences and magazines insisted that you shipped your documents in 5.1 format. Unlike previous DOS versions, WordPerfect 6.0 for DOS could switch between its traditional text-based editing mode and a graphical editing mode that showed the document as it would print out, including fonts and text effects like bold, underline, and italics. The previous text-based versions used different colors or text color inversions to indicate various markups, and (starting with version 5.0) used a graphic mode only for an uneditable print preview that used generic fonts rather than the actual fonts that appeared on the printed page.
In 1990 WordPerfect Corporation also offered LetterPerfect, which was a reduced-functionality version of WP-DOS 5.1 intended for use on less-capable hardware such as the laptops of the day, and as an entry-level product for students and home users; the name (but not the code) was purchased from a small Missouri company that had produced a basic word processor for early Atari computers. LP did not support macros, tables, labels, sorting, equation editing or styles. It sold for about US$100 but did not catch on and was soon discontinued.
WordPerfect Corporation produced a variety of ancillary and spin-off products. WordPerfect Library, introduced in 1986 and later renamed WordPerfect Office (not to be confused with Corel's office suite of the ), was a package of network and stand-alone for use with WordPerfect. The package included a DOS menu shell and , whose macros allowed text to be moved from one program to another (for example, from WordPerfect to Calendar, and vice versa), a do-all editor, apparently that of , which could edit binary files as well as WordPerfect or Shell macros, calendar, and a general purpose program that could be used as the data file for a in WordPerfect and as a .