Previous Issue | Search TidBITS | TidBITS Home Page | Next Issue
Welcome to 1995! Along with a new sponsor, this issue brings news of Copland and Windows 95 slips, the first official Macintosh clone licensee, the announcement of two new mailing lists from Apple designed to help Macintosh Internet users and providers, and a look at some of the ways you can run DOS and Windows software on a Macintosh. Finally, we present a look back at the major events of 1994 and ahead at 1995.
Copyright 1995 TidBITS Electronic Publishing. All rights reserved.
Information: <firstname.lastname@example.org> Comments: <email@example.com>
This issue of TidBITS sponsored in part by:
Welcome to 1995, and keep an eye out next week for the news from Macworld San Francisco. We'll be at the Netter's Dinner, of course (barring the Martian Death Flu that flattened me in Boston), and at the Hayden booth at random times during the show. [ACE]
The Netter's Dinner is scheduled for Friday, January 6th at the usual place and time and with the usual spicy Chinese food. For information and to reserve a spot, send email to Jon Pugh at <firstname.lastname@example.org>. [ACE]
PowerCity Sponsoring -- I'd like to welcome our newest sponsor, PowerCity Online, a company doing business much as we do with TidBITS - entirely online. Unlike most hardware and software resellers, PowerCity concentrates on selling to the online world. PowerCity works through email, so to request pricing and availability information, you send email to their CompuServe address <email@example.com> (a full Internet connection is in the works). The PowerCity folks can provide a certain amount of technical information and information on related products to help you better decide among similar products.
When I first heard about PowerCity, I was in the market for a Sonic Systems microBridge/TCP, so I sent them a query. In about a half hour (they aim for 15 minutes, but the CompuServe gateway can slow things down), I had a quote that was not only $50 cheaper than MacWarehouse (none of the other major mail order vendors carried the microBridge/TCP at the time) but was also in stock. (MacWarehouse was back ordered.) PowerCity usually charges $5 to $10 for shipping in the U.S., as opposed to the flat $3 charged by most other vendors, but my order did arrive overnight (international shipping is available). Subsequent anonymous price requests by a friend for other products turned up competitive prices.
Overall, I found PowerCity easier to deal with than other mail order vendors, although that may be due to my comfort with email (I find the phone tiresome and inefficient for this sort of work). If you do decide to order, PowerCity accepts Visa, MasterCard, and American Express only. Despite the popular belief in the insecurity of email, everything I've heard from vendors about credit card laws indicates that in almost any credit card dispute, the bank gives the benefit of the doubt to the customer, not to the merchant. If you're still uncomfortable sending your credit card number in email, all I can say is, don't do it. [ACE]
Christopher Allen <firstname.lastname@example.org> writes:
Everyone should know that during Macworld RSA Data Security will be at the Apple Pavilion giving out free System 7.5 DigiSign signers. Notaries will be on hand to notarize the necessary documents, so remember to bring three forms of ID (at least one a photo, and no two items may be of the same kind). This is particularly useful for those of you who may have had difficulty getting signers in other countries.
David Strom, InfoWorld's "Network Curmudgeon" columnist, is always on the lookout for new sites to test a variety of networking and communications products for his column. The tests take place at the actual end-user site, and David obtains donated, fully-functional products from the participating vendors. Those interested in getting more information and willing to test mainly network-based products should contact him at <email@example.com>.
Patrick Pruyne <firstname.lastname@example.org> writes:
USRobotics has begun shipping chip swap kits to owners of USR Sportster v.34 and v.FC modems. The user-installed chip replacements are offered, in part, to address compatibility problems which can occur when either the USR Sportster v.34 or v.FC communicate with a non-USR v.FC modem. Under these circumstances the connection can collapse if a v.FC retraining sequence is initiated.
The new v.34 chip replacement kit will be sent upon request at no charge to owners of the USRobotics v.34 Sportster with a valid serial number. Similarly, owners of the USR Sportster v.FC can receive a free v.FC replacement chip, or upgrade to the more robust v.34 standard for $34.
The chip sets will not work in any non-USRobotics modems nor USRobotics modems that are not already v.FC or v.34 class.
USR Chip Swap Program: 800/543-5844
USR tech support -- 708/982-5151 -- 708/933-552 (fax)
<email@example.com> (use the subject line: IOD LIVE)
by Adam C. Engst <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I'd like to commend Chuq Von Rospach of Apple for recently setting up two new mailing lists, one devoted to discussing issues surrounding the use of Macintosh Internet client software, such as Eudora, Anarchie, and Netscape, and the other dedicated to discussing the Macintosh Internet server software, including programs like MacHTTP, FTPd, and MailShare.
Although both topics are often discussed in the <comp.sys.mac.comm> newsgroup on Usenet, many people (myself included) have much more trouble keeping up with a Usenet newsgroup than a mailing list. In addition, <comp.sys.mac.comm> has become a very high volume group with many discussions about communications issues that aren't related to the Internet. Nothing wrong with that, but it makes it difficult to pull out Internet-specific discussions.
To subscribe to the first list, apple-internet-users, send email to <email@example.com> and put "subscribe apple-internet-users Your Full Name" alone in the body of the message. To post a message to the group after you have subscribed (the list won't accept postings from non-members), send it to <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
To subscribe to the second list, apple-internet-providers, send email to <email@example.com> and put "subscribe apple-internet-providers Your Full Name" alone in the body of the message. To post a message to the group after you have subscribed (the list won't accept postings from non-members), send it to <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
Although the tenor of these lists will no doubt be determined by the participants, I'd encourage people to think about the community aspect of a mailing list. Beginners often ask "stupid" (where "stupid" is defined as "unfamiliar with the relevant technology") questions; if we help these people initially, they'll be in a position to want to help others later. By setting up a forum where everyone can help everyone else, it's less likely that the more knowledgeable people will burn out quickly. And, since Chuq is archiving every post to the mailing lists, new people can browse back to find answers without having to ask. Hopefully Chuq will get a WAIS server, AppleSearch, or something set up so that we can search the information as well.
by Geoff Duncan <email@example.com>
Microsoft announced last week that the next version of its Windows operating system - dubbed Windows 95 - would be delayed until August of this year, postponing its release date another six months. This version of Windows was originally announced in 1993 and set to ship in mid 1994. Last summer, Microsoft moved the ship date to early 1995 and now we're looking at the third quarter of 1995. One can't help but wonder if some marketers in Redmond aren't seriously regretting the product's naming scheme.
On the heels of this announcement, members of the computing industry press contacted Apple to inquire about the ship date of the next version of the Macintosh operating system, code-named Copland (see TidBITS-256). Apple responded by confirming what (apparently) everyone at Apple knew except marketing and management: Copland will not ship until (at least) mid 1996. Until that point, Apple representatives and marketing had been insistent that the PowerPC version of Copland would ship in 1995. However, some in contact with Apple through informal channels (as well as developers attending closed-door conferences in Cupertino) report that no one working hands-on in the Copland effort had any illusions about shipping in 1995. Apple representatives speculated that individual components of Copland might be broken out and shipped before the entire OS, but they declined to be specific.
What does this mean for the more immediate future? For one thing, it means the introduction of new OS components with Marconi - such as OpenDoc and Open Transport - becomes more important to Apple in order to generate developer support for these technologies. It also means Apple cannot as easily link support for future hardware improvements to Copland. Look for support of new hardware standards - PCI, FireWire, 64-bit SIMMs, new PowerPC CPU chips, as well as MovieTalk, video conferencing, and 3-D graphics - to be delivered well before Copland. This slip may also endanger Apple ever releasing a full version (or any version) of Copland for 68000 Macs.
by Geoff Duncan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
On December 28, 1994, Power Computing Corporation of Milpitas, California, became the first company to announce it had reached a licence agreement with Apple for rights to build Macintosh clones. Power Computing expects to supply Mac clones to other PC makers to sell under their own logos as well as directly to consumers via mail order. According to the New York Times, Power Computing plans to begin shipping PowerPC-based clones in mid 1995 for as little as $1,000 each. Apple indicated it expects a few other companies will announce licensing agreements "in the near future."
If your first reaction to the name "Power Computing" is "Who's that?", you aren't alone. Power Computing is a small, little-known, start-up company with no established brand recognition, distribution channels, or manufacturing track record. However, its CEO and President, Stephan Kahng, is a veteran of the PC-clone game and is credited with developing the Leading Edge PC for South Korea's Daewoo Corporation in the 1980's. Power Computing's largest outside shareholder is the Italian company Olivetti, a large manufacturer of PC-clones.
If you wonder why Power Computing is the first company to announce an agreement to manufacture Macs, you still aren't alone. Apple has been coy when speaking about potential licensees of Macintosh technology, saying only that there were several possibilities and that it would leave any statements up to licensees. Industry speculation has pointed to Motorola, Zenith, Pioneer, and even IBM as being likely to strike a deal with Apple, but apparently Power Computing decided to make a splash with its announcement. This could potentially jump-start other efforts to licence the Macintosh as other manufacturers rush to firm up their deals. But it's important to remember that no large personal computer makers have committed their own manufacturing resources to Mac clones, nor have any agreed to buy systems manufactured by Apple.
Industry scuttlebutt has held for years that Apple should licence the Macintosh, and it's generally been accepted that Apple must licence its technology in order to expand market share. It's a risky strategy: Apple has controlled about ten percent of the personal computing market for the last few years, but that is expected to decline in relation to the PC market for 1994, even with unprecedented Macintosh sales and the success of the first Power Macs. Mac clones will significantly "cannibalize" Apple's own revenues and cause the company to decrease in size as it lays off employees and focuses more on its software business. However, an aggressive and successful cloning strategy could allow the Macintosh to penetrate a greater portion of the market and - cross your fingers - fight a winning battle with the Windows-Intel standard.
Many members of the Macintosh user and development community feel extremely nervous about clones. They point to early IBM PC clones that claimed 100 percent compatibility but didn't deliver, causing untold numbers of headaches for consumers and businesses (and giving savvy technicians a sinecure!). Users and some industry experts agree that a bad Mac clone could be disastrous for Apple; however, others feel that clones - even bad ones - will allow Apple to leverage its brand name. As one industry source put it, "Would you rather drive a Volkswagen or a Mercedes?" In any case, look for Apple to closely supervise the production of the first Macintosh clones.
by Tonya Engst <email@example.com>
If you've ever worked in a "mixed-platform environment" (MIS speak for an organization having different computers running different operating systems), you've probably experienced frustration over file conversion, not to mention general angst over the fact that some programs only run on one operating system.
The cold, hard, business facts of life currently state that some people (who would otherwise happily use Macintoshes) simply must use DOS or Windows software. Insignia, Orange Micro, and several other companies have long-offered DOS or Windows compatibility in a Macintosh, but the products don't yet have the price to performance ratio that makes masses of people buy them, use them, and rave about them. Insignia's SoftWindows costs too much for the speed and compatibility it offers, and Orange Micro may be asking a fair price for their OrangePC cards, but the cards offer more than what most users require.
Houdini Magic -- Last spring, Apple introduced the DOS Compatibility Card, code-named Houdini, as an option for the Centris 610 (see TidBITS-204). It looked as though Apple finally had a solution for people wanting to purchase a 68040-based Mac that could switch into DOS mode and competently run DOS or Windows software on a 486SX-based PC. Dan Magorian <firstname.lastname@example.org> reviewed the Houdini for TidBITS. We didn't find room for the article before Apple dropped the DOS Compatibility Card, but Dan had nice things to say:
"The Houdinis are quite good. The card has a control panel interface and its integration with the Mac is superb - the PC boots transparently and virtually all PC software runs. I can offer many examples of how nicely integrated it is. With a single monitor you tend to forget that the PC is running. You flip via a user-defined hot key sequence. The monitor flip defaults to a pleasant fade in-and-out, or you can flip faster. At shutdown the Mac reminds you about the PC so you don't lose work, though you can turn off the reminder." Dan's complete article is available at:
As another indication of the quality of Houdini's integration with the Mac, we've heard reports that the card has very little trouble with beta versions of Windows 95.
Houdini Disappearing Act -- Based on Dan's report and various trade press articles, I thought Apple had something in the Houdini. In fact, Apple finally had a Mac I might be able to badger my parents into purchasing (my mom is a hard core DOS WordPerfect user and my dad uses Windows in his job at AT&T). Unfortunately, Apple used the Houdinis to test the market and planned from the beginning to discontinue them after the initial shipments ran out. Enough of the market must have reacted the way Dan did, because the card is back and the new specifications look promising. The card has returned in two forms, one from Apple (which should ship in first quarter 1995), the other from Reply (which is currently shipping).
Apple's DOS Compatibility Cards -- Apple plans to introduce DOS Compatibility Cards for the Power Mac 6100 and the Performa 6100 series. According to Apple, the new cards will offer a 66 MHz 486DX2 running DOS and Windows, built-in SoundBlaster capabilities, and a way for DOS and Windows software to take advantage of the Mac's Ethernet port. To be more precise for you network people, Apple says the card will come with, "Macintosh ODI Driver for NetWare IPX and TCP/IP support in DOS/Windows environment using the built-in Ethernet connections."
The card can use memory installed in the Macintosh, or it can use up to 32 MB of "local" memory installed in the lone SIMM slot on the card. Apple's wording suggests that the card can use either Mac memory of local memory, but not both at the same time. The card will enable you to use DOS or Windows-based CDs, and it comes with a PC game port. The card permits DOS and Windows software to print to Macintosh printers, and makes the Mac's printer port emulate a PC parallel port.
Apple anticipates selling the card for $699. You can find complete details about the anticipated DOS Compatibility Card by using the following URL to locate Apple's online tech support library, and then typing "dos compatibility" in the search field.
If you think a DOS Compatibility card may be in your future, you might enjoy InfoWorld's recent article in the 05-Dec-94 issue about their testing experience with a beta version of the card.
Reply's DOS on Mac card -- Although Reply only recently entered the Macintosh arena, they've been in the motherboard business for some time. Previously, Reply made MCA motherboard upgrades for IBM's PS/2 PCs and other micro-channel-based computers. Reply licensed Houdini technology from Apple and has created a variety of options for the Centris 610 and 650, and the Quadra 610, 650, 700, 800, 900, and 950. The DOS on Mac card comes as a 50 MHz 486DX2 with DOS (for $495 list) or as a 66 MHz 486DX2 with DOS and Windows (for $695 list). Various options for the cards include network software, a SoundBlaster module (which includes DOOM), and memory upgrades for the card itself.
A Reply representative told me that the Reply cards have been shipping since early December, but that currently you can only get them through Reply. He said that starting in January Reply will sell the card through regular channels, such as mail order.
Final thoughts -- Apple has taken a one-card-fits-all approach, by creating a single PC card that includes most options. Conversely, Reply has broken out the technology into different options so you can better customize your purchase. If you are considering a card, of course, you'll buy the one that works with your Mac, since there is no overlap between the Macs that the different cards work with. I hope that, over time, Apple or Reply will release a wider spectrum of cards for a wider variety of Macintoshes.
Most any avid Macintosh user has had a friend who wanted a Mac but ended up buying a DOS-based system in order to run a specific program. People tend to buy computers that make it easy to share work with others. If those others use DOS WordPerfect, a proprietary Windows-based communications client, or a DOS-based database system, then a computer running DOS may make the most sense. The DOS Compatibility Card and DOS in Mac cards, with their promised speed, price, and compatibility put DOS in the machine in a way that should make the masses rave.
Insignia -- 800/848-7677 -- 415/694-7600 -- 415/964-5434 (fax)
Orange Micro -- 714/779-2772 -- 714/779-9332 (fax)
Reply Corporation -- 800/801-6898 -- 408/942-4804
408/956-2793 (fax) -- <email@example.com>
by Adam C. Engst <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Welcome to 1995! At this juxtaposition of endings and beginnings, I'd like to pass on some thoughts I've been mulling over in regard to predictions and look back at last year's more interesting events.
Predictions -- People often ask me what I think the Mac industry, the Internet, or I myself will be like in five years, in ten years, or who knows when. I never pretend to be a prognosticator in entrails, so I base my answers on several basic policies.
First, with the clarity of hindsight, could I have predicted where things sit today from some length of time in the past? In other words, if you ask what I'll be doing in five years, I look back five years and see if I could have predicted my current situation. I find this method useful for determining whether a prediction is possible. If the current situation was unimaginable in the past, I see no reason that I should be able to predict the same length of time into the future.
Second, all my thoughts about the future are predicated by a pair of contradictory statements, each of which on its own works perfectly.
The first statement (an expression of Heracliteanism, for those of you with a passing interest in Classical philosophy) makes sense, and I doubt anyone would seriously argue with it. No matter what tack you take, the world is changing, at the levels of the physical, the cultural, the intellectual. But, the second statement, more of a popular aphorism, seems equally sensible. Cells may die and be replaced within our bodies, but we stay pretty much the same. Governments come and go, but the lot of most people remains the same. Fashion may come and go, but the penguin-effect of the tuxedo has remained constant for many years.
Again, I never said I was a seer, but if you keep these basic truisms in mind while analyzing the current situation, you'll stand as much of a chance as I do at gazing into the murk of the gleaming crystal sphere.
A look back -- It's much easier to look back than it is to look forward, and I just thought I'd glance at some of the events that caught my attention.
Non-profit, non-commercial publications and Web sites may reprint or link to articles if full credit is given. Others please contact us. We do not guarantee accuracy of articles. Caveat lector. Publication, product, and company names may be registered trademarks of their companies. TidBITS ISSN 1090-7017.
Previous Issue | Search TidBITS | TidBITS Home Page | Next Issue