Corel to launch own version of desktop Linux

New product upgrades and a plan to release its own version of Linux for the desktop will help Corel return to profitability, company executives said yesterday.

The company, which has been suffering a decline in the value of its shares, said it would launch in August a beta version of Corel Desktop Linux, a version of the operating system that has graphical end-user features and is designed to be easy to install.

Corel also is on track to launch a Linux version of WordPerfect Office at the end of this year and a Linux version of CorelDraw next year, said a company spokesman. WordPerfect Office has an installed base of 22 million units, about half that of Microsoft Office, according to Corel.

Corel stock is now trading on the Nasdaq Stock Market at around $US3, down from its 52-week high of $US5.38, and way down from the approximately $US15 level at which it started trading on the exchange in 1992.

Corel posted a net loss of $US14.6 million for the first quarter, ended February 28, a better result than the $US21.1 million loss for the same period in 1998. Since then, however, Corel launched fresh upgrades to the WordPerfect Office suite and the CorelDraw graphics suite on April 7. Officials have said that these upgrades should reinvigorate sales over the next few months.