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The computer industry is if anything incestuous. Apple can sue Microsoft with one hand while agreeing to further enhance TrueType with the other. And lest I confuse my imagery even more, a third hand of Apple Shiva (the many-handed Hindi god of reproduction and destruction, not the people who make the NetModem :-)) is reaching out to compete directly in the Windows market. I'd say something about not being able to tell the players without a scorecard, but that might risk a baseball reference and further muddy the issue at hand. :-)

In any event, Apple has clearly entered the Windows market in several different ways in the past few weeks and months. Andrew Johnston of Seattle's dBUG (Downtown Business Users' Group) passed on this quote from an article by James Plamondon in a publication called MADA FrameWorks. In discussing comments by Steve Weyl, Apple's Chief Honcho of Development Tools at Macworld San Francisco, James wrote:

"...Steve dropped the bombshell: MacApp would be taken cross-platform! And he didn't mean Quadras, either! He gave no dates, no specs, no promises he could later fail to deliver, but he just darn near chanted 'Windows, Windows, Windows.' It was a sight to see. I got all choked up. So did some other guys near me. (Actually, I found out later, the thought of programming for Windows was making them gag. Oh, well.)"

Interesting stuff. If Apple ports its MacApp application development environment to Windows, I wonder how that will affect the suit with Microsoft. I also wonder if we won't get some cleaner Macintosh-style interfaces out of the resulting programs, although Microsoft's Visual Basic and Borland's ObjectVision have a pretty good lock on the graphical application development market in Windows.

FileMaker Pro for Windows -- Also in the software arena, we've heard that work continues on FileMaker Pro for Windows, a program that is likely to do well in the Windows market for lack of well-known, low-end database competition. I'm sure there are some decent products out there, but FileMaker Pro would come in with a recognized name from the Macintosh world and with Claris clout behind it. Although Claris has a ways to go before attaining the kind of recognition in the Windows market that WordPerfect and Lotus enjoy, the fact that Claris now markets Hollywood, late of IBM, can't hurt. As much as I think FileMaker Pro is a good first port into the Windows market, I can't help but think that MacDraw Pro should follow closely, and I'd be fascinated to see how well ClarisWorks could do in the Windows world. I'd love to see Apple port the Finder to Windows to replace the awful combination of the File Manager and Program Manager, but I'm not putting any money on that possibility.

Windows-compatible hardware -- More immediate and far less ambiguous were Apple's announcements last week of two products, one aimed directly at the Windows market and the other positioned to mix and match. Most interesting of the pair was the Apple OneScanner for Windows, which consists of the same hardware as the Macintosh OneScanner, a Windows version of Light Source's Ofoto scanning software, and a SCSI adapter for ISA and EISA buses (but not for the MCA bus, the type used in most IBM PS/2s). Ofoto for Windows offers the same one-step scanning as the Mac version and supports the common file formats in the PC world, such as TIFF, PC Paintbrush, Windows bitmap, GEM Image, Microsoft Paint, and EPS. With one click, Ofoto can determine if the picture is gray scale or line art, scan the image, and automatically straighten it. The Apple OneScanner for Windows stands to do quite well when it comes out in May, given Ofoto's sophistication and Apple's generally solid engineering.

The new Personal LaserWriter NTR that Apple announced last week for release in April is not specifically a Windows product, but unlike previous printers, Apple went out of its way to ensure that the NTR would work well with PC compatibles. Apple gave the NTR LocalTalk, serial, and parallel interfaces along with intelligent interface switching so that the printer can determine what sort of print job is coming in and react appropriately. In the past, it has been possible to hook LaserWriters to PC compatibles, but we've received the impression that Apple would have you believe that the hookup was so hard to do that you might as well go buy a Macintosh or at least an AppleTalk card for your PC. (You generally have to locate a serial cable, add a few lines to your DOS AUTOEXEC.BAT file, and flip a DIP switch). This sort of capability combined with fast PostScript processing will undoubtedly make the NTR popular at the expense of the cheaper but non-PostScript LaserJet printers from Hewlett-Packard.

All these product introductions and directions come down to the financial bottom line. Microsoft claims to have sold something like nine million copies of Windows 3.0, and even considering the estimates that little more than a tenth of those are actually in use, that's a lot of potential customers. Apple sees no reason to be pig-headed about its hardware and is just as willing to accept money from Windows users as from Macintosh users. Of course, I hope much of that money goes to improving the Macintosh line, and from some of the rumors I've heard recently, the Macintosh line will be around for a long time, initially in the form of faster Quadras and color Classics with more radical upgrades to come, as they always do.

Information from:
Pythaeus
Andrew Johnston
Mark H. Anbinder -- TidBITS Contributing Editor
Chuck Bartosch -- chuck@baka.ithaca.ny.us

 

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