Apple has begun to step down from its ivory tower, or perhaps it’s being pulled down by gravitational market forces. As much as the Classic is selling like hotcakes (pretty soon you’ll be able to buy Classics in department stores and roadside diners – I’m not entirely kidding on that first one), Apple still has a ways to go before it’s installed base can compare with the base of Windows-capable machines. Apple has been working on graphical environments for a number of years and considers itself an expert. Why not expand into the Windows market, and why not use Claris to do it?
Claris is working on applications for Windows, and although I’m not sure of what they are, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Windows versions of MacWrite II, MacDraw Pro, FileMaker Pro, and the as-yet-unnamed spreadsheet with technology from Wingz in it. MacWrite II has a decent chance, although Word for Windows and Ami Professional are pretty good word processors. On the other hand, if MacDraw came in at a relatively low price, it might be able to make off with a good bit of the market from higher end programs like Illustrator and Corel Draw. FileMaker also stands to do well in the Windows market and wouldn’t even need a name change like MacWrite and MacDraw would. A spreadsheet will be hard put to compete with Microsoft’s nicely done Excel 3.0.
I’d like to see Claris release a Windows version of HyperCard that could run all Mac HyperCard stacks. If Claris distributed it cheaply, as it does with the current version (cheap or free unless you want the documentation), and sold it to developers for the $49 price, it would be an instant and complete hit. ToolBook, HyperPad, and Plus have generated interest in the area, but none of the three has taken over, whether it be because of speed problems, lack of graphics, or general flakiness. A speedy, stable version of HyperCard that could directly read all current stacks would be ideal. The other application that would endear the Windows market to Apple would be an enhanced version of the Finder (I say enhanced so it could deal with program groups and the like) to replace the brain-damaged File Manager and Program Manager. If Apple/Claris has the experience to provide these programs, I say, "Use it!"
Another interesting thrust out of the Mac market is with DAL, Apple’s Data Access Language, which is a superset of SQL (Structured Query Language, pronounced ‘sequel,’ for some reason). Apple just licensed DAL to a couple of third-party vendors, including Blyth (makers of Omnis 5), Novell, and Data General. DAL integrates data access over many different platforms, including DOS and Windows, something that large companies with lots of data in lots of places like. It’s definitely not aimed at normal people like you and me, but hey, if it helps insert the Mac further into corporate America, so be it.
Writing for the Windows market would cause some interesting conflicts, though. Apple has its own handwriting-recognition extensions for the Mac which it regards highly but is still considering licensing PenPoint from GO to help stem the force of Microsoft’s Windows handwriting extensions. If Apple teams up with GO and IBM (remember IBM, GO’s main partner?) it would be a potent combination against Microsoft. Apple might integrate support for PenPoint into the MacOS, not to use PenPoint’s handwriting recognition since Apple thinks its version is better, but to increase compatibility with notebooks using PenPoint. That would increase the appeal of PenPoint to third-party hardware manufacturers and would help slow Windows/H or whatever it’s called. Apple and/or General Magic might use PenPoint directly, which would mean that machines from Apple and IBM would for the first time be completely compatible. Scary thought, but it’s rumoured that General Magic might have something out in a couple of months. I’m looking forward to it, whatever it is.
MacWEEK — 26-Mar-91, Vol. 5, #12, pg. 1
InfoWorld — 01-Apr-91, Vol. 13, #13, pg. 1, 8