Brentford, Middlesex-based Ace Microsystems Ltd has launched a new version of its word processing package Lex-WP, hoping to raise its profile among MS-DOS users. Priced at UKP390, Version 9C of Lex is in a strong position to compete with the slightly more expensive WordPerfect 5.0 word processing package. It offers a fully integrated database giving […]
Brentford, Middlesex-based Ace Microsystems Ltd has launched a new version of its word processing package Lex-WP, hoping to raise its profile among MS-DOS users. Priced at UKP390, Version 9C of Lex is in a strong position to compete with the slightly more expensive WordPerfect 5.0 word processing package. It offers a fully integrated database giving it a powerful mailmerge facility, as well as pop-up help menus, integrated spell-checker, thesaurus and proportional space printing. According to John Irwin, marketing director of Ace, the previous version of Lex-WP for personal computers was written using the DEC VAX as the common denominator (Lex-WP was originally written for the DEC market), whereas version 9C takes advantage of the personal computer, so that, for example, the spelling system and thesaurus are integrated into the software as opposed to running as separate programs. The main advantage the package has over standard MS-DOS word processing software is that it comes with a card index system and three new sample databases for personnel, biography and sales lead handling. This gives users four ready-to-use systems or the option of tailoring the applications to suit the environment in which they operate, using Filetab-D, the decision table-based language in which Lex is written. Last year the company set up a consultancy subsidiary called Ace Datasystems to advise users on Filetab-D development and to help them customise their software. Ace sells most of its software through dealers who often add value to the product by tailoring it to specific markets. For example Property Software of East London tailors Lex to conform to the specifications of the legal market. Large corporations can set the package up to meet different departmental requirements, while organisations such as the Royal Navy use Lex as their standard word processing package, issuing a restricted version so that users cannot customise it at all. Ace estimates that there are about 15,000 Lex users worldwide. Of these 60% run Lex under MS-DOS, 30% on DEC VAXs or PDP-11s, while 10% use Unix versions. Another advantage that Lex has over standard word processors is that the mix of word and data processing makes it easy to tailor Lex for different language versions. For example, Ace has three Arabic distributors and Lex is the standard package for Jordanian schools. Indeed, it transpires that the Soviets have even translated pirated copies of Lex into Cyrillic and like it so much that Ace may be setting up a distribution deal with the French/Soviet joint venture company Interquadro to provide Lex for Soviet government agencies. These are merely niche geographical markets, however, and Ace is focussing primarily on the European market where it is strongest in the UK, Germany and Switzerland. In the US Lex has a miniscule presence, mainly as an add-on within the DEC marketplace. This may grow over time following the joint development and marketing agreement with Saturn Systems Inc under which Lex integrates with spreadsheet, graphics and time management facilities. This type of fully integrated package with version 9C of Lex will be available next year. Ace is putting its energies into a hard sell for the new version of Lex in the MS-DOS environment. Current Lex-users will be offered an upgrade package at UKP150, but one new market that Ace ought to consider is education, where UK schools are crying out for this kind of package as they attempt to conform to the 1987 Education Reform Act. Versions of the new release of Lex-WP to run under Xenix will cost UKP750 and up.