Computers: Notebook

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Wordperfect is to drop the unlimited free support that was one of the strongest reasons for its customers' devotion. From 1 February, users of its business products, such as the eponymous word processor, will have 180 days free support from the date of their first call. After that, they will be charged for every call.

This is part of a general and probably inevitable shift throughout the industry. Knowledgeable people to staff support lines are expensive, while software is cheaper every year. Modern software also gets easier to use.

The giant software suppliers of the industry, like Wordperfect and Microsoft, now do a great deal of 'usability testing' before they release anything. Programs now come with every sort of tutorial and hint box as well as old-fashioned on-screen help and even decent manuals. This ought to mean, and probably does, that less support is needed.

The Compuserve on-line information and messaging network is set to cut its prices by about 40 per cent. From 6 February, the hourly rates charged for accessing Compuserve's 'extended services' will drop to dollars 4.80 ( pounds 3.30) an hour for slower modems (2400 bits per second and below) and dollars 9.60 ( pounds 6.60) for 9600bps modems.

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