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Page updated Oct 8, 2019

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Should you buy an OEM * version of WordPerfect from an Internet source?

* Original Equipment Manufacturer

There are several reasons why you should not consider buying an OEM version of WordPerfect Office, unless it comes bundled with a new computer (in which case it was virtually free of charge to you).

Even then, you might want to read the rest of this page.

Reason #1 - it's probably NOT the full program

OEM editions -- the "CD/DVD only" or "purchase a registration key (or serial number)" software you often see for a few dollars on eBay, etc. -- usually are missing useful (some would say, critical) third-party, add-on utility programs. They might even be missing many fonts, graphics, etc., that Corel includes with various editions of WordPerfect Office.


OEM editions have special serial numbers.

A December 2013 post on OfficeCommunity.com indicates that serial numbers that start with WP??B22 are OEM editions ("??" = major version number, such as 17 for WPOX7, 18 for WPOX8, etc.).

Using an OEM serial number when attempting to install a downloaded version from the Corel site will cause the installation to fail because it -- like the Home and Student, Academic, and Not for Resale editions -- is NOT eligible for an upgrade.

Hence, if you purchase a download version on the Internet, it's best to stick with a well-known retailer like Amazon.com (look for "ships from" in the description), who presumably has an actual business relationship with Corel and do not sell OEM editions.

Some (hopefully few) resellers on Amazon seem to try selling OEM products with images and descriptions that make the product seem legitimate. I suppose if enough buyers complain then Amazon will investigate; such practices are not something a company will want to be associated with.

Remember the old saying that "if it sounds too good to be true it probably is."

(Also note that you can usually buy a Home and Student edition very inexpensively on Amazon; see Notes below.)

To explain further:

The particular items that may be included in an OEM version vary from one computer seller to another. Most often, many add-on "utility" programs are omitted.

Why? OEM versions are packaged with computers because computer manufacturers want to add "value" to their products, and they want to do so as cheaply as possible. It's a matter of economics to them.

So it is the computer manufacturer, not Corel, who decides which utility programs they will bundle with WordPerfect on their computers. Since these add-on programs are licensed by Corel from third parties, omitting them saves the computer manufacturer money when they, in turn, license their OEM bundle from Corel.

Note that some program features might also be removed to produce something like a trial version, since Corel (or any software vendor) will want you to upgrade at some point to the full version. They are, after all, in the business of making a profit. No profit, no company, no product.

Reason #2 - it's not supported by Corel

This leads to another little-understood fact about of this business:

OEM versions are not supported by Corel but by the computer manufacturer -- and they are notorious for denying support for a program they know very little about.

Corel probably will refer you to the computer seller, who probably will refer you back to Corel. Around you go, trying to find help. (If you are caught in this loop, try the forums at Corel's OfficeCommunity or the peer-support site WordPerfect Universe for help.)

Reason #3 - it's rarely "patched" and definitely not upgradable

On top of all of this is the fact that Corel-issued Service Packs (i.e., program "updates" or "patches") might not be issued for some OEM versions. If you have one of those OEM versions you might -- or might not -- be able to update it to fix some bugs or improve some features. (Note that "update" is not the same thing as "upgrade".)

Further, OEM versions (as well as Home & Student, Academic, and Not for Resale versions) are not eligible for Upgrade (lower priced) versions of WordPerfect since they were already discounted or were included with a computer as free OEMs or branded versions.

Reason #4 - the legal and economic impacts

[From a post on a Corel newsgroup:]

Selling, buying, and/or installing OEM copies of WordPerfect Office, separate from the PC or peripheral for which the OEM copy was licensed, constitutes "...trademark infringement, copyright infringement and inducing copyright infringement, and may result in civil penalties against the seller as well as the End User".

[From a post on WordPerfect Universe by a Corel manager:]

Corel software products are protected by U.S. and Canadian copyright laws. Corel software products are licensed, not sold, to you as the end user. Your use of Corel software is subject, at all times, to the in-product end user license agreement. Corel Corporation and its licensors own all copyrights and related intellectual property rights in Corel software products; it is copyright infringement to make a copy of a protected work without the copyright owner's permission. Unless you have a valid separate and fully executed license agreement with Corel Corporation, you may not sell, resell, rent, lease, loan, copy, and/or distribute Corel software (or any portion or component in any Corel software product) in your possession or under your control to any person or entity. Corel asks that you respect such copyrights and other intellectual property rights in our software products.

Moreover, as Jan Berinstein (owner and moderator of WordPerfect Universe) said:
...Although none of us likes to spend money to upgrade software when we already have a workable version, there are a number of reasons why it's not a good idea to buy such questionable software. One of the best, in the case of WordPerfect, is that because of the dominance of the word processing market by MS Word, every such questionable sale of WordPerfect keeps money out of Corel's pocket and removes an incentive for them to continue to fund development of the product. In the short term, it might help your finances, but in the long term it hurts everyone, because it reduces competition in the market and could lead to the demise of an application most of us rely heavily on in our professional and personal projects.
Think of an OEM version as a special sample of the WordPerfect program that came bundled with the computer you bought.

If you like it you probably should uninstall it and get a full, retail (i.e., legitimately boxed or downloaded) version from Corel or well-known retailer such as Amazon (see Reason #1 above). You will be much happier with the full product -- which still will be less expensive than competing products.

Notes and tips

•  Some new computers have several such stripped-down OEM editions of software installed on them. Corel is not alone in this practice.

For example, some computers come bundled with DVD-playing software, CD-buring software, music playing software, and so forth. All of these software vendors are doing what the computer maker asks of them: create an OEM version that is reasonably problem free -- as cheaply as possible. From the computer company's perspective, this results in additional "value added" to the hardware. From the software company's perspective, these programs might entice you to buy the full edition of the program.

(Sidebar: Many power users recommend uninstalling the OEM edition before installing an upgrade to the program, if possible. To save your WordPerfect customizations before upgrading, see here.)

•  Consider the source, especially if buying online. Beware of sellers who promise to deliver a "legitimate" or "complete" product -- that is, a sealed box version from Corel. 

You should try to ensure that you are not buying a pirated version, or one that was already registered to someone else, or even an OEM version made for another computer (some online sellers show a picture of the retail box, but what you get is an OEM disk). It is better to buy from a reputable source such as Corel.com or Amazon.com or a brick-and-mortar retailer, even if the product costs more. Caveat emptor.

•  If saving money is an issue with you, you might consider getting the WordPerfect Office Home & Student Edition.

Although it does not import PDFs for editing, the H&S edition can create PDFs. It can also be installed legally on up to three computers in your home.

From the WordPerfect X9 Product Family PDF:

"The Home & Student Edition of WordPerfect does not include the following features: PDF Import, PDF Forms, SharePoint support, eBook publishing, Metadata Removal, Bates Numbering, pleading paper, Pleading Expert, Tables of Authorities, document review or routing slip."

See Corel.com or Amazon.com (or similar reputable retailer) for a retail, boxed or download version of the H&S Editon. [To see what is new and different in retail editions of WordPerfect Office, including comparison charts, click here.]