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Oh My Tech!: Answers for a reader who still loves WordPerfect

Published February 21, 2013 10:54 pm
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

My wife needs to run Windows XP so she can continue to use WordPerfect 5.1 for DOS. With Microsoft discontinuing updates and support for Windows XP in April, is there anything we can do to prepare for this change or protect her ability to run XP and WP5.1 in the future? (DOS Box is not an option because it causes crashes in WP5.1 graphics mode.) — Jay Frankenfield, Salt Lake City.

Yikes! First of all, let me congratulate Jay and his wife for posing the question. That's the oldest software I've ever been asked about. WordPerfect, the word processor originally from defunct WordPerfect Corp. in Utah County, was the biggest-selling program of its type in the early days of home computing, before it was eventually overrun by Microsoft Word.

To give you a sense of how old the program is, when WordPerfect 5.1 was released in 1989, Paula Abdul's "Straight Up" was a No. 1 hit, and Milli Vanilli was all the rage.

My first reaction is to tell the Frankenfields to upgrade their computer, operating system and word processor, but it's obvious that they like what WordPerfect 5.1 does for them. That's OK — to a point.

At least they won't have to worry about it for another year. Yes, Microsoft will stop supporting Windows XP, but not until April 2014.

But just because Microsoft will stop supporting its operating system doesn't mean you have to stop using that version of Windows XP. True, the company won't be putting out any more patches to fix bugs or security holes, but given that XP has been out for so long, I would imagine nearly all the bugs have been ironed out.

Yet time does march forward, and eventually the Frankenfields will have to upgrade their computer and software if ever they want to use a newer program.

But if they do get a new computer, the newest version of Windows installed on it — Windows 8 — will not run old DOS-based (Disk Operating System) software without the use of an emulator program such as DOSBox, which the Frankenfields said will not run WordPerfect.

My suggestion is they keep their old computer with Windows XP and WordPerfect for whatever uses they need. I would imagine the computer is probably too old to effectively run a more current operating system or software. If she likes WordPerfect so much, there's no reason not to keep using it until her writing job requires the use of more advanced features that aren't in that version of the word processor.

If there comes a time when they want to get new software, they may want to look at a new computer while keeping the old one for writing.

Then they can perhaps consider getting a new word processing program such as the free Open Office suite and spend some time learning what it can do. The features in word processors today are far beyond what WordPerfect can accomplish.

I understand that we all have attachments to a favorite piece of software that feels like a long-lasting relationship, and, as a result, breaking up is hard to do. But at the risk of sounding like a Nicholas Sparks movie, sometimes we just have to move on.

If you have a tech question for Vince, email him at ohmytech@sltrib.com, and he'll try to answer it for his column in The Salt Lake Tribune or on its website. For an archive of past columns, go to www.sltrib.com/topics/ohmytech.






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