Is Corel Draw 8 for Windows still gettable?
August 7, 2009 11:32 PM   Subscribe

Is it still possible to get hold of Corel Draw 8 for Windows? Abandonware?

My friend's father has just purchased a new PC, and utterly adores Corel Draw 8. Unfortunately, the vagaries of time have misplaced his original CD8 media and he's not to be tempted by newer versions or alternatives. He knows how it works and likes it. Lots.

Asking Corel has fallen on utterly deaf ears: so is it possible to still get hold of this? Is it abandonware? [Doubtful knowing Corel]. I've found version 5 supposedly as a/ware, but he doesn't like that either. :)

Any help utterly appreciated.
posted by n3rt to Computers & Internet (15 answers total)
I took a peak into usenet, nothing reliable. There seems to be a few copies being offered on eBay, though.

No, it's definitely not abandonware as it looks like Corel is still hosting updates/patches for the program on their own site.
posted by porpoise at 11:56 PM on August 7, 2009

No. Just: no. This is not going to work. It is a very, very bad idea to spend years and years trying to make it.

Look, I love this kind of crap—I was running an old ThinkPad from 1997 with Win95 on it for a while just to see what I could do. It was fun: taking apart the old drivers, seeing ghosts of viruses that have been dead for a decade, noticing how easy it was to break everything and yet how easy it was to get under the hood and tinker. (Fun fact: every version of Opera runs on Win95+ unaltered, with the same relatively small local installer. How the hell did they do that?) I get off on that stuff because I find it interesting and arcane, and because it's a blast to see what you can make work with tiny amounts of memory.

But working in reverse? Well, that can be fun, I guess, but why would you want to emulate Win95 or Win98? You do realize that CorelDraw 8 came out in 1997 was the Win98 version of CorelDraw, right? (It's more than 12 years old, for god's sake.) So even if you can find a copy of CorelDraw 8, you'll have to figure out some way to get Win98 compatibility. Given that it doesn't sound like Vista enjoys attempting to be Win98-compatible with CorelDraw 8 (and I don't really freaking blame it) your best bet would probably be to set up a VirtualBox virtual machine running Windows 98. And to do that, you'll have to find a copy of Windows 98. This should be much easier than finding a copy of CorelDraw 8, but not that much easier. Finally, you'd have to set it up for your friend's dad and probably maintain it, given that virtual machines aren't exactly the most stable way to run graphics utilities. I've also heard bad things about VirtualBox Windows 98 graphics emulation—as in "reverts to 16 color VGA graphics." Ugly. Take it from a guy who still has his Paradox 9 (circa 1999) manuals and discs and likes to take 'em out and fool around with them every once in a while because Paradox was just so cool—running a program from that time is only interesting and worthwhile if you like old software for its own sake. Not if you actually want to use it for graphical manipulation.

n3rt: …he's not to be tempted by newer versions or alternatives. He knows how it works and likes it. Lots…I've found version 5…but he doesn't like that either.

Oh, one of those—I have met these people, and I know what you're talking about. You tell them “but that program only runs in an ancient operating system!” They smirk at you. You tell them “but it was designed to manipulate seven pixels on a ten-by-ten-pixel screen, and you only had three colors available unless you used a magic marker on your monitor to add a few more!” They grin smugly and say, “ah, back then, they actually knew how to make a program you could use. Why did they have to change it?” You say, “but look—here are five dozen new, more exciting, more versatile, more useful ways to do what you want to do!” They shake their heads and say; “but I know how to use the old one, I like using it, and I just want to keep using it.

There's actually a great answer to this. I'll bet a few weeks of trolling ebay will yield you either a copy of CorelDraw 8 or a computer that already has it; and it's easy to find an old ThinkPad there which will probably be in working condition. Buy him that; he's out $50, but he gets to use his precious CorelDraw 8. What's wrong with that? If he fiddles with drivers for a while, he can should even be able to get the usb port to recognize flash drives so he can save and take his images to his new computer. Heh.

Otherwise, he should get used to this fact: proprietary software is dead. Dead, dead, dead. Useless and gone. He is learning the lesson that all of us have had to learn over the last twenty years: guarding the code and keeping it from becoming open-source turns even very good ten-year-old software (CorelDraw 8, Paradox 9, etc) into instant dinosaurs—you can't find it, you can't update it, you can't fix it, and neither can anybody else—whereas opening the source and encouraging people to distribute and fiddle with software can make even 40-year-old pieces of software (ahem) keep working smoothly and benefitting millions. That's why all of us love our GIMP and our OpenOffice and our Firefox (and, yes, Linux) so damned much—because we know that in ten years we won't be in that position, left out in the cold because source code has been bumped around from copyright-holder to copyright-holder and finally allowed to rot, of no use to anybody anywhere and totally unable to be of benefit even if there's plenty of potential. In ten years, if I want to run the version of Firefox that I'm running right now (3.5), and if I know how or can find somebody who does, I damned well will be able to run Firefox 3.5—and, far from trying to stop me, people will probably be happy to help.

Here, install some of these and let him try them out; maybe he'll find one that he likes:

OpenOffice Draw

I'd most recommend them in that order; Inkscape is (I believe) the premier vector-graphics draw program out there (and, back in the late '90s, "Draw" meant "vector graphics"). I haven't really used Dia much, but it looks like a great draw utility. OpenOffice Draw offers a desktop-publishing-integrated draw program like those he's familiar with; that might be something to grasp on to. is good, GIMPshop (an attempt to make GIMP friendly to Photoshop users, which often is more friendly in general) and GIMP are great programs too.
posted by koeselitz at 6:36 AM on August 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

While I agree with koeselitz that trying to get Corel 8 for a Vista machine is... stupid... no one in their right minds can say that "proprietary software is dead." Microsoft and Adobe are still on top. The Linux platforms on netbooks were quickly stripped out for Microsoft due to market forces, for example. In terms of industry standards and field usage, those proprietary forces are still going strong, whether we like it or not. The only open source software that has had major progress against the "OMG Evil Proprietary Industrial Complex That Kills Humanity" is Firefox. But that's not a productivity software. Anyway, moving on.

Besides the buy-old-hardware-and-old-software route (two things), you can try to dual boot the new machine! Yes, that is all sorts of fun, assuming the old Corel will work with the hardware. Of course, that still requires obtaining two things, the Corel Draw and Win98. Now, if you didn't want to spend another dime on the setup, that's another thing entirely; freeware (I did not say "open source") or :cough: something not legal (which I won't mention again) are your only options.

Given the forces of reality in this case, I'd say just suck it up and try freeware or buy a newer version of Corel Draw.
posted by Ky at 6:57 AM on August 8, 2009

Not endorsing anything illegal, mind you. But it CAN be had.
posted by EnsignLunchmeat at 9:47 AM on August 8, 2009

The Linux platforms on netbooks were quickly stripped out for Microsoft due to market forces, for example.

I'm pretty sure there was other "pressure" applied - as was the case with the OLPC.


I bought an original Asus EEE netbook and handed it to my 7-year old daughter. It had Xandros and OpenOffice. I purposely did not teach her or assist her with the software. Within 4 days she was as proficient as she was with Windows/Office. She was embedding video into presentations, word processing and surfing the net without issue.
posted by jkaczor at 10:23 AM on August 8, 2009

Do you have any places that sell and trade used software? I seem to see Corel products pop up on a fairly regualr basis here in town at Bookmans.

koeslitz, as someone who works in the graphics field can attest, proprietary software is NOT dead. We have to use software that we know will work. It's nerve-wracking enough sending a file off to the printer using Adobe software (and don't get me started on Quark-Adobe interactions in our workflow.) The files have to work and they have to separate correctly with no transparency issues. I cannot risk thousands of dollars on a print job just to stick it to Adobe.
posted by azpenguin at 11:38 AM on August 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

I doubt anybody who makes a living off of anything image related (design, development, etc.) uses GIMP or InkScape or the like on a daily basis. I personally don't care whether my software will still work 10 years from now, but whether it will help me meet my deadline yesterday.
posted by signal at 12:44 PM on August 8, 2009 [2 favorites]

Searching froogle, I found it being sold here.

Aside from that rant from koeselitz, I don't find using old software "stupid". I still use/install Paint Shop Pro 6, which came out in 1999. It runs perfectly under Vista and even Windows 7 (without setting any compatibility modes).I am in no way "naive" in graphics software either. It just does everything I need.
posted by wongcorgi at 1:03 PM on August 8, 2009

signal: I doubt anybody who makes a living off of anything image related (design, development, etc.) uses GIMP or InkScape or the like on a daily basis.

*raises hand*

I'm in web design, as of last week as my primary income, and I frankly don't know anybody personally in the field who doesn't rely on open-source stuff to a large degree. But I know that paper/other media is very different, so…I can't speak with absolute authority.

I guess I should also say that I probably stated my point in a way that sounded a good deal more controversial than I meant it to. A better way to say it would be this: when companies let their software lapse into obscurity while clutching onto the source code blindly, they're consigning stuff that might have a long and healthy life to the dustbin of history and killing it off before its time. CorelDraw 8 is a great example of this. Corel almost certainly makes no money whatsoever on CorelDraw version 8 right now. (Heck, I have a hard time seeing how they're making money on the current version of CorelDraw, but that's a separate issue.) So what exactly would they have to lose if they opened the source-code? In fact, they'd probably be able to make money in that scenario: given the apparent widespread popularity of CorelDraw 8 in the underground, they could probably open the source, host some discussion and foster some creativity on the part of the programming community around it, and end up selling support deals to companies who want to use it. Opening the source of programs which have cult followings is nearly always a gold mine: it proves your goodwill to the people who want it most, and it gives a bunch of folks exactly what they want, making them very happy; that opens them up to seeing you as ‘that cool company who saw past their petty copyrights’ rather than ‘that annoying company that made one great program and then buried it for no good reason.’

Hear me, Corel? There are a bunch of us out here who'd love to work a bit on CorelDraw 8, maybe port it to Vista and maintain it some. We might even do it for free. All you'd have to do is take an old program you're not making a dime from and open up the license. You'd get great press on SlashDot, everybody would suddenly buzz about how Corel still exists as a company, and even a worthwhile and thoughtful company at that…and you'd almost certainly make more money out of it than you're making at the moment by languishing in obscurity and playing it safe.

That's what I'm really saying: that clutching onto source code can kill companies, whereas companies like Sun Microsystems, Oracle, and a whole host of others have discovered over the last few years that being more open can be a fantastic thing for business.
posted by koeselitz at 3:36 PM on August 8, 2009

wongcorgi: Aside from that rant from koeselitz, I don't find using old software "stupid".

Hey, I agree completely—not stupid at all. I love Paradox 9—it changed the way databases were seen by the public, and if it'd gotten the traction it should've, it could have singlehandedly supplanted Excel and replaced it with something that led much more naturally into the databases that so many people are trying to build but simply can't because of the limitations of spreadsheets.

Nothing wrong with old software at all. Sometimes it's difficult to run it on new machines, and as a sometime-IT-dude it annoys me personally when people want me to do difficult things for them which probably won't satisfy them or be workable in the end, old software should be kept alive; there are lots of hidden gems there.
posted by koeselitz at 3:39 PM on August 8, 2009

Ky: The only open source software that has had major progress against the "OMG Evil Proprietary Industrial Complex That Kills Humanity" is Firefox. But that's not a productivity software. Anyway, moving on.

A minor point, merely for the sake of accuracy: it's pretty clear in the internet world that Microsoft has a tiny marketshare of production-grade server software. Most large web servers—that is, most web sites—run on Apache or some other variation of a UNIX-derived system. In other words, people don't tend to trust anything but open-source when it comes to web software; but that's not productivity software, either. And you know, I'm sure, that the GIMP vs. Photoshop argument is one which we could have all day—suffice it to say that 'GIMP doesn't hold a candle to Photoshop' is at least debateable…anyhow, all this is beside the point. Just wanted to mention that.
posted by koeselitz at 4:10 PM on August 8, 2009

Well, we're talking about a guy's dad who just seems to like playing around in it.

Given that scenario, I'd

a) point him at the dodgy ways to get a copy for free, as he's admittedly got a license and just lacks the media

b) point him at the legit ways to buy a copy and leave the "worth it" aspect up to him

c) be extremely strict about the limitations of any support I would provide. Professionally, I wouldn't provide any. As a favor, I might do a bit, but probably not much more than the "see if it works on his copy of Vista" level.

If it doesn't work on Vista, well, sucks to be him. It would be the same outcome if he bought, say, a Mac and had a Windows program he loved. In the corporate world, the limitations of software often drive the hardware and OS purchases. If the choice is made to move to a new platform, the department desiring the unorthodox software often has to sign a diminished service-level agreement, or agree to change over to something that works. That's life.

If the guy himself wants to dick around for hours or ... years (poetic license) ... that's his thing. I wouldn't do it. I'd go with one of koeselitz's offerings. But if it's his dicking-around time, you know, it's his dicking-around time.
posted by dhartung at 5:49 PM on August 8, 2009

Until I bit the bullet and purchased CS4 along with my new macbook (must maximise student deals in final year of grad school) I was happily running Corel Draw 6 (1995) on my XP thinkpad with no compatibility problems whatsoever. So while I don't understand most of what koeselitz says, I wouldn't think it's totally necessary to go back to Win 95/98. No idea about Vista though.
posted by hibbersk at 12:27 PM on August 9, 2009

I have an OEM CorelDRAW 9 disc sitting here in a dusty shelf. But I really think you'd be better off getting X4. It's less buggy and has more fun toys that older editions. Did you at least give the trial edition a run? It's free.
posted by chairface at 9:34 PM on August 9, 2009

Thanks for all the responses.

We've tried him with demos of newer versions, even Illustrator. As a graphic designer myself who uses Inkscape quite a bit, and to a vastly lesser degree GIMP - I honestly don't think it'd be worth trying him on either - particularly Inkscape, which whilst I adore it don't think he'd get on at all well with it's learning curve.

Lastly, thanks to ensign - I've grabbed and burnt the file to a bootable [hey! I had no idea what a .nrg file was, so at least I've gained something from this! :) ] and passed it over. No guilt involved - he *had* already paid for this, and just wants the ability to use it again, despite Corel's best "don't give a shit" customer service non-reply. Hopefully his reg details will work, if not I'll dig out my Amiga a1200 and let him loose on DPaint II [which I still occasionally AIAB for work...]
posted by n3rt at 5:22 AM on August 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

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