I was bragging here the other day about how I had completed the arduous task of setting up a new personal computer. One nut that I hadn't been able to crack, though, was to get my old version of WordPerfect software (version 12) installed on the new machine. I was missing a crucial serial number that had come on a five-by-five card with the installation disks that I bought four years ago, and I was expecting to have to call Corel and grovel for a magic number that would get the installation going.
I was not looking forward to that phone call: doubtlessly a life-sapping directory, a long wait, and finally "Hello, I'm in Rangoon, give me your credit card number before I will talk to you, and then I'm going to try to sell you something that you obviously don't want."
Ah, but the internet is a highly educational place if you have the patience to comb through it. I prowled around and discovered that there is a website for WordPerfect mavens, and it's got a pretty extensive support forum in which users can chat about the issues they encounter with WordPerfect and related programs.
In that forum, a wise user from South Africa explained two ways to figure out a lost serial number. First and easiest, if you can get the program to run, you just hit "Help" and "About," and there it is. That wasn't going to do anything for me, as I couldn't even get the program installed, much less get it to run. But he also noted that the serial number is saved on one's computer in the Windows registry near the word "SerialNumber," and if one can get at the registry, one can eventually hunt down the number.
Well, I have the entire hard drive from my old computer set up as an external drive, and so if I could find the Windows registry, I could certainly give it the old college try. There were a couple of obstacles -- aren't there always with computers? -- the first of which was figuring out where the confounded registry files were. I have always felt that it would be sheer folly ever to mess with those, and so I had no clue as to where they might reside or what they might be called. I learned that it depends on which version of Windows is running. The old computer was on Windows XP, and after a bunch of hunting and reading, I got their names and likely locations.
Then there was the hurdle of getting my new computer's Vista program to open the registry files on the old hard drive. Now, Vista is set up not to let boneheads like me screw registries up, and it was refusing to open them, but after some thinking, it dawned on me that if I copied the files with different names, I might be able to get them open. Sure enough, that and pasting the copies onto the new computer's desktop did the trick. And after much hunting through the bizarre registry files (gobbledegook of the lowest order), there in a file called "software" was what appeared to be the serial number I was looking for.
In went the WordPerfect installation disk. Up came that infernal demand for the serial number. And good news -- the boxes in which to enter the number had the same format as the number I just mined off the hard drive. When I hit "Enter," the darn thing installed. Yeah, baby.
Now, I may not be completely out of the woods. Corel says it's not supporting those of us who dare to run WordPerfect in Vista. But reports from many users are that it will work o.k., particularly if one's word processing needs are simple, as mine surely are. And so I've gone ahead and downloaded no fewer than three WordPerfect 12 "service packs" that came out in the past several years -- I had never heard of any of them, and so they're all upgrades for me -- and I'm off and running. When my free trial version of the latest version of WordPerfect blows up in a couple of weeks, there is still a chance that I won't have to pungle up $150 or so and keep it. Ahhhhhhhh.