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Thursday, May 22, 2008

Mission accomplished

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.

Comments (13)

You should download this little freeware program called Belarc Advisor, which profiles your computer--every piece of hardware and software. It lists all the serial numbers for every proprietary program (and operating system) you have on your hard drive. I install it on every new computer and then print out its report, so I have a hard copy if my hard drive crashes. It's totally benign as far as I can tell.

Or, jot that number down before it drifts away again!

Better yet, go with Open Office.

Write the serial # on the disk!

Also copy the install disk to your hard drive and create a text file of the serial, then instal from that.

(Note that I have been unable to install WP from disk files, so this one needs to be intalled from the disc, but still save it as a disk image.)

This is a real time saver when replacing the main drive or re-intalling.


Good lord, the people at Apple couldn't write a better testimonial for why to buy a Mac if they had 1,000 days and 1,000 computers.

So what do MAC users use for word processing anyway?

Greg C

I don't know what other Mac users use, but I am dictating this using MacSpeech, which took me a hellish five minutes to install and train to recognize my voice. Since leaving the world of Windows users, and remembering those long nights wasted trying to fight the system that Bill built, I have never regretted the higher purchase cost of the Apple for a minute. In the 18 months since switching over, I must have wasted at least 15 minutes fighting with the Apple, and I think I managed to lock up a program once, but the force quit command made getting out of it easy.

As for what I type these words -- or dictate these words -- into, what does it matter? I can have the program highlight the text, copy it, and paste it into any number of programs -- including Microsoft office for Mac. Should I be so crazy as to want any Microsoft products on my machine.

Greg C, I think people who need to use WordPerfect for some reason or other are SOL with the Mac (except for its ability to emulate or virtualize a PC, something Microsoft doesn't appreciate very much).

We Mac users use Microsoft Office 2008 (or 2004) for Mac, or we run VMWare's fusion and run whatever Windows program makes our liver quivver.

If that doesn't work, there is always Apple's Pages. It doesn't have all the bells and whistles but it does work cleanly.

And then there is Open Office, NeoOffice, and a large variety of other processors.

As for the lawyers who have standardized on Word Perfect, you have my sympathy. I don't know what wordprocessor lawyers who run Mac shops use. Anyone know?

In the meantime Jack, you are entitled to your endorphin shower. I help people with problems like yours out all the time. It is always a kick when the problems are solved in a relatively short time. It gives me my own endorphin flood. Buy yourself a beer, on me.

Thanks for the software tips.

It is always a kick when the problems are solved

Hey, isn't that Microsoft's slogan?

Bojack. Here's an easier fix: dump Vista soon and switch to linux. No serial numbers needed and a super stable OS.

At the risk of incurring Tenty's wrath (i.e. Macs are a tool of the Bush/Cheney administration designed to watch over our online movements and control us) I have come to the conclusion that some people actually *LIKE* fiddling with and fixing Windows issues, because it makes them feel like they've accomplished something important.

Even if it saps their productivity to an amazing degree.

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