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Ad Rietveld, president of Novell's WordPerfect applications group, says the merger between the Provo-based network company and the Orem software company was a natural happening.

"The reason we merged," said Rietveld in his Thursday keynote address to the NetWare Solutions Expo audience, "was because Ray (Noorda) and I believe the future is in networking and to be successful, you really need to blend net-work-ing and applications together."Noorda was the founder and president of Novell until he step-ped down in May.

Rietveld said the two companies started out teaming up on various projects and products until they had so many teams working that "someone said, maybe we should merge the two?"

At the same time, Novell was getting a new chief executive officer in Robert J. Frankenberg from Hewlett-Packard, said Rietveld.

That made for the ideal working formula, he said. "When we had a problem between WordPerfect peo-ple and Novell people we could go to a neutral source and ask `what would a HP guy say?"'

Frankenberg served as the perfect referee since his investment wasn't already predetermined, said Rietveld.

He said the saying is true that "the company that owns the network owns the applications" and Novell is determined to provide common service for all ap-pli-ca-tions.

Novell will focus on helping customers become "network aware" and familiar with the capabilities of new products through such devices as games and educational programs.

The company will concentrate on network integration as well, he said, making sure programs and systems can work with one an-oth-er.

Without integration, costs are pushed up, said Rietveld. If a system fits with various components and products easily, then less maintenance is required and costs come down.

He said the future lies in suites of products - even suites the customer can mix and match to fit a specific company or department's needs.

PerfectOffice is the first of such network suites, he said, one that includes "Greater Intelligence" in that it will make linguistic corrections and intelligent changes in text when a spelling or grammar check is run.

"Linguistic correction is going to be really important as we travel the information highway to different cultures around the world," said Rietveld.

"One day you will be connected to other people," he said. "That's the direction of the next generation."