PC vs. NC:
-- by Cynthia Morgan
The first of the Java suites is now available for free download. But before you head for your browser, be warned: This software is pre-beta--extremely pre-beta.
Corel's Office for Java is one of the first attempts to translate standard applications, such as word processors and spreadsheets, into online Java applications for Network Computers. It traces its roots back to WordPerfect's component application model, which lost the battle to Microsoft OLE a few years ago. Now written entirely in Java and requiring the Java virtual machine, or JavaOS, to run, Corel Office for Java keeps an application's housekeeping functions, such as file storage and printing, on the server. You only download application tasks as required.
Your document becomes a container for the application components needed to create it, and the finished document can be placed on the Internet, downloaded and manipulated in any Java-supported environment, without additional application software.
The advantages: It's easier to overcome version incompatibility and software distribution problems because upgrades are made at the server. You can view and manipulate documents using a Java-enabled browser on any computing platform. In addition, componentized applications are easier to customize for specialized users.
The disadvantages: Because the application is divided between network and client, bandwidth constraints may severely affect performance. Once you download the software, the speed of client operations may depend on whether your browser offers a built-in Just in Time compiler for Java translation. The initial investment required to convert to Java applications, train users and support personnel, and fine-tune application performance may inhibit its widespread adoption.
You can download the pre-beta Corel Office for Java (2.7MB) at http://officeforjava.corel.com/. This version lacks many features you'd expect in an office productivity suite, such as right-mouse click menus and flexible format options. Because the trial version accesses Corel's own server across the Internet, and not the intended local network server, this edition is very slow and you won't be able to run server-side operations, such as printing and saving documents.