Apple slashes prices this week on many Mac models, but if you bought a Mac recently, read on to find out about your free software! A brief look at ClarisWorks, an explanation of Word’s weird numerology, and news of several mysterious bugs with Word 5.0 and System 7. For those spanning two worlds we’ve got articles on SoftPC and the new ANDOR ONE, a PC expansion card that puts a Mac in your PC (a tiger in your tank?).
Glenn Fleishman writes to expand on some points about the snazzy keynote presentation at Macworld Expo:
Just some points of clarification. The photographer who assisted in John Sculley’s presentation was Greg Heisler, a leading photojournalist, who recently did the Time Man of the Year (Ted Turner/CNN) cover (more on that below).
The camera he used was a Kodak Professional Digital Camera System (DCS). I work for Kodak more or less and my place of work has two of these systems. Kodak doesn’t sell the just CCD back for the camera; it sells a Nikon F-3 with the back installed along with a 200 MB hard drive packaged with a tiny monitor and some controls. Plans are in the works, I think, to make it smaller and higher capacity. The camera comes in several models, storing from 156 to 600 4.5 MB RGB or black and white files depending on the model.
The Time Man of the Year cover was done at my place of employment, the Kodak Center for Creative Imaging in Camden, Maine. Greg Heisler came out and spent 10 days working through ideas, and walked away with an RGB file (about 20 MB) created entirely in Photoshop that Time separated digitally through a CMYK proprietary conversion process. Greg’s a great guy, and participated in the Sculley presentation partially because of this connection with Time and partially because he likes the Mac. As it turns out, they downplayed the artistic and collaborative end of the demo, because Apple apparently wanted to highlight the technology which didn’t work exactly as planned, despite four days (instead of a promised four hours) in Time’s offices, setting up the connection.
Glenn Fleishman — [email protected]
On February 3rd, Apple announced price cuts, free deals for potentially irate customers, new PowerBooks, and the shipping of the Quadra 700 upgrade board.
Price Cuts — Those who have watched the Macintosh market over the past several years will not be surprised to learn that Apple has announced yet another round of list price reductions. Low-end buyers will be happy to see a $200 drop in price for a StyleWriter, $500 drop in price for a Classic II, and almost $1000 drop in the price of a Mac LC. High-end buyers will save lots of cash to the tune of about $1200 on a typical IIsi and $2000 on a IIci.
Keen market observers will note that Apple usually drops prices in an especially sweet way when it is about to discontinue a model. In light of the fact that Apple also announced a future direction of having all Classics, Classic IIs, and LCs ship with 4 MB of RAM, and that Apple also announced a new 4/40 PowerBook 100, we might expect the 2/20 PowerBook 100s, the 2/40 LC and Classic, and possibly the 3/40 IIsi to be discontinued rather soon. With the rest of the line-up, though, the future is anyone’s guess.
Freebies — Naturally, recent purchasers of Macintosh systems may want some of their money back, since they could have saved enough money to buy a few airplane tickets to somewhere warm and sunny (substitute somewhere cold and dreary if you live in a currently pleasant climate) if they had only waited a week or two before buying. In an effort to salvage customer satisfaction (and presumably to increase Claris’s installed base), Apple has a special offer for some recent purchasers who took advantage of the Macintosh Right Now promotion extension (between 01-Jan-92 and 02-Feb-92). So, if you bought one of the following packages:
- Macintosh Classic with a StyleWriter or Personal LaserWriter LS
- Macintosh Classic II with a StyleWriter
- Macintosh LC with a StyleWriter or any Personal LaserWriter and an Apple monitor.
You should call Apple at 800/695-2506 and be prepared to send them a copy of your invoice to get one of the following free gifts:
- MacWrite II and MacPaint 2.0 bundle
- MacDraw II and MacPaint 2.0 bundle
- AppleCare for one of the above-mentioned hardware packages.
The offer is good through 14-Mar-92, but you should also keep in mind that Claris just chopped the price of MacWrite II from $249 list to $129 list. So if you were going to pick up that MacWrite II bundle, it might be worth snagging a different one and actually buying MacWrite II. People who purchased MacWrite II between 01-Apr-91 (hmm) and 31-Jan-92 will get a free upgrade to MacWrite Pro when it ships, hopefully before I retire. If you buy MacWrite II now at the lower price, you’ll have to pay $69 to upgrade to MacWrite Pro.
Apple doesn’t have an offer for people who didn’t buy one of these packages, sorry. I think Apple would do better to make an offer to anyone who purchased a now-discounted Macintosh or printer. Such an offer would go even further to enhance customer satisfaction, and Claris needs to increase its an installed base. Resolve needs to compete with Excel and 1-2-3, and MacWrite II needs to maintain its installed base since MacWrite Pro has slipped far behind WordPerfect 2.1, Nisus Compact, and Word 5, all of which shipped recently.
The Bottom Line — We won’t publish all the new prices, but for those who are interested, here are the highlights (model, old suggested retail price, new suggested retail price):
68000 Macintoshes: PowerBook 100 2/20, no floppy 2,299 1,999 PowerBook 100 2/20, floppy 2,499 2,199 Classic 2/40 1,499 1,349 Classic 4/40 1,649 1,499 68020 Macintoshes: Mac LC 2/40 2,499 1,549 Mac LC 2/40 w/VRAM 2,499 1,549 (Yes, these are priced identically. One of those marketing mysteries, I suspect.) Mac LC 4/40 2,649 1,699 Mac LC 4/80 w/VRAM 2,999 2,049 68030 Macintoshes: Classic II 2/40 1,899 1,349 Classic II 4/40 2,049 1,499 Classic II 4/80 2,399 1,649 Mac IIsi 3/40 3,769 2,499 Mac IIsi 5/80 4,569 2,999 Mac IIci 5, with floppy 5,269 3,299 Mac IIci 5/80 5,969 3,999 Mac IIci 5/160 6,369 4,599 Mac IIfx 4, with floppy 7,369 5,099 Mac IIfx 4/80 8,069 5,799 Mac IIfx 4/160 8,669 6,399 StyleWriter 599 399
This is not a review but a rave. It takes a lot to impress me these days, but I’ve been impressed by ClarisWorks. I’m not even all that likely to use it since I mostly do a ton of writing in Nisus and uAccess, but I suspect that if I need to do a compound document I’ll use ClarisWorks. In this day and age of 1.4 MB programs that prefer 8 MB of RAM, ClarisWorks is a mere 562K and likes only 900K of RAM. For all that you get word processing, graphics, spreadsheet, database, and communication capabilities. Taking each alone, the modules are fairly unimpressive, but when you use them as they were meant to be used, they’re great.
Start a letter. Draw a whimsical scrawl right in the letter without changing windows. Remember that you need to include some simple numbers, and draw out a spreadsheet as easily as you would draw a rectangle. Decide you’d like to graph those numbers and it’s a two-step process. Scale the graph and add a legend as an independent text block with the text tools. Move all these objects around as in a page layout program. Run the spelling checker on the whole thing, including text in the spreadsheet. You can do all of this without changing windows or documents or modules – just select an object and the appropriate tools are present.
Of course, now that I’ve raved about it, let me emphasize that if you have sophisticated needs, you’ll outgrow ClarisWorks quickly. I’d like to see the same sort of tool-based philosophy – "What You Need When You Want It" – with all engines at full power. Let’s face it, I want Nisus’s text-processing power, Excel’s or Resolve’s numeric capabilities, FileMaker Pro’s or Panorama II’s database skills, MicroPhone II’s communication abilities merged with uAccess’s UUCP connectivity, and Canvas’s drawing power to top it off. Oh, and it would be nice to have all of this in a pasteboard-style environment from PageMaker or XPress, but that might be asking too much for tomorrow. 🙂
Seriously, folks, ClarisWorks is good. I’ve heard good things about BeagleWorks too, but haven’t had a chance to see it yet. I hope that I’ll be able to say similar things about it. I said at first that this is not a review, but we do have a full review of ClarisWorks coming out soon as a special issue, so stay tuned to the network ether.
I’ve been a serious slug on this one, and I’d like to apologize to Insignia Solutions for taking so long. Some time ago they sent me SoftPC to review and I checked it out fairly thoroughly… and then somehow just forgot about the review in the shuffle of getting married and moving. This is late, but I think still applicable.
I’m sure that most of you have at least heard of SoftPC by now, in part because Apple loves to advertise that Macs have DOS compatibility*, and if you follow the asterisk down to the three point type at the bottom of the page, it always says something to the effect of "With the addition of SoftPC emulation software from Insignia Solutions."
I’m pleased to report that SoftPC lives up to its claims of running most PC software on the Mac with no additional hardware. All the commercial software I tried worked almost perfectly, and the main programs that crashed were public domain and shareware games that may not have run on many PCs either, since they were obviously breaking programming rules and using illegal tricks to directly touch the hardware. I’d hate to try and run some of those programs from within Windows.
The other general problem I had, which I’m sure was due to my configuration of the PC program and not inherently because of SoftPC, was with programs like terminal programs that need to access the serial port. SoftPC handles that quite well, but it’s a confusing enough subject on the PC that it took some experimentation to get everything working. Printing was similarly confusing, in part because so few PC applications know how to handle a PostScript printer. SoftPC basically gives you a choice between fooling the PC into thinking you have an Epson dot matrix printer or a PostScript printer. Again, I don’t fault Insignia for this confusion since it’s bad enough in DOS. SoftPC’s manual is generally decent, although the idea behind SoftPC is that you should think you’re actually using a PC and should therefore resort to your PC and DOS manuals – it’s not Insignia’s job to make a PC easy to use.
Herein lies the true problem with SoftPC. Unless you know specifically that you have to run a certain DOS program and you cannot use a Mac equivalent (like WordPerfect, 1-2-3, FoxBase, etc.), DOS software is simply too much of a pain to mess with. In my experience, the majority of the people who think they need to run PC software really just need to know how to translate files better between programs on the different platforms. That said, if you need to run a specific program, test it first at a dealer before buying SoftPC because Insignia may be unable to help you if your program is poorly written and isn’t completely PC-compatible.
If you’ve decided you need SoftPC for a specific program and that program does run, you’ll encounter the final problem with SoftPC. It’s pokey. Simple as that. When a Mac, even a high-end Mac, tries to pretend that it is really a PC, including support for a 286 and coprocessor, EGA graphics, and expanded memory, it just can’t run all that quickly. On my SE/30 I’d rate SoftPC (I’m using the older EGA/AT module with version 1.4) at slightly under the speed of a PC XT, although my SoftPC can do things an XT can’t, like run programs that require an 80287 coprocessor. I suspect that a Quadra would significantly speed up SoftPC, perhaps even to the point where it would be usable for long periods of time without creating undue frustration. Admittedly, I’m sure that the most recent versions of SoftPC are somewhat faster, but I’d hate to need to do serious work in SoftPC on anything slower than my SE/30.
Enough complaining, when it comes right down to it, SoftPC does what it claims to do and does it well. I genuinely enjoy using it on occasion because I don’t use PC software enough to warrant buying one and SoftPC has yet to fail me. SoftPC creates its own C: drive as a 1 MB (or larger) document to hold DOS and other required boot files. You can then define a SuperDrive or third party drive (like those from Kennect and Dayna) as a PC floppy drive, you can create another SoftPC hard disk document as a D: drive, and you can define a Macintosh folder as an E: drive. I mention this because I truly dislike navigating in DOS, and most of the DOS shells are still a step below the Finder. When I’m using SoftPC, I create all files on my E: drive (the folder) and then switch in and out of the Finder whenever I need to copy, rename, delete, or otherwise play with files. The only slight caveat to this is that SoftPC gets confused whenever I change the files in the E: drive so if I was in a subdirectory on E: it puts me back to the root directory on E: to recalibrate.
All that talk of E: drives and subdirectories may sound confusing (and to many it is) but what I’m trying to get at is that SoftPC running in combination with the Finder is even easier to use than a normal PC. It’s also hard to accept that PC programs can just sit on the Mac hard drive as normal files and still run from within SoftPC, but it works fine. It even works fine when Salient’s AutoDoubler has compressed those PC files, which surprised me slightly. I used SoftPC to create some disks of public domain games for relatives spending a year in Tanzania with only a 286 laptop. It was easier than I expected because I could download the files from the Internet and America Online using normal Mac software, expand and test the files within SoftPC, and then create the DOS disks on a SuperDrive.
These days Insignia has several versions of SoftPC at different price points, Entry Level SoftPC for the Mac LC and below at $125 (discount), Universal SoftPC for all Macs from the Plus on up at $195 (discount), and for $300 (discount) SoftAT to add to Universal SoftPC for the 80287 coprocessor support, expanded memory support, and EGA color support (otherwise you can only use CGA graphics). SoftAT requires a 68020-based system at a minimum. Insignia also has SoftNode ($105 discount) for Universal SoftPC and SoftAT (but not Entry Level SoftPC) that will allow you to run Novell Netware PC client software on the Mac, which can be extremely useful in some large organizations with Novell networks.
The new versions have some significant enhancements over the version I have. The printing support has been enhanced so that you can do better graphics printing and wide-carriage printing, and there is now support for non-European character sets. More interesting given the spread of CD-ROM drives is support for the Microsoft CD-ROM Extensions, so you can use CD-ROMs that would otherwise be relatively useless on the Mac. SoftPC can now format floppy disks internally and supports a second floppy drive, and for those of you who actually upgraded, it also supports, but does not ship with, DOS 5.0. It still comes with DOS 3.3, if you’re curious. Insignia also says that they have redone the interface to make it easier to use and have added balloon help and access to some AppleEvents, although SoftPC has always been able to do some copy and paste between the PC screen and a Mac application, an extremely handy tool for writing and illustrating documentation.
When it comes right down to the question of should you buy this program, I think it’s a question that you should be able to answer fairly well now. If you need a little access to PC software and would appreciate integration of the PC with your Mac software for documentation and whatnot, then yes, get it, it’s great. If you want to avoid buying a PC but still want to run heavy-duty Windows software and use the PC as much as you use the Mac, you’re fooling yourself and you should buy a PC. By the way, I gather that Windows will run, if run is the correct word for it. Considering that Windows is no speed demon on a real 386-based PC, I’d hate to see it amble under SoftPC.
Insignia Solutions — 800/848-7677
I can see wanting to run the occasional PC program on your Mac, after all, I just spent 45 minutes writing about just that topic above. But I’m less sure about wanting to run the occasional Mac program on your PC. It’s possible now, thanks to Hydra and its ANDOR ONE.
The ANDOR ONE is a PC expansion board that works with all PC-compatible computers (though not most laptops due to the slot limitations) that use an ISA or EISA bus, although it won’t work on a Micro Channel bus. You must add your own Mac 128K ROMs and Macintosh system software (yes, it works with System 7), much like emulators for the Atari ST and the Outbound Portables. As far as I can tell from Hydra’s press information – which is very complete by the way, these people did their homework – the ANDOR ONE is essentially a slightly souped-up Mac Portable in the sense that it uses a 16 MHz 68000 and is thus twice as fast as the Classic, although still about half the speed of an SE/30. The speed of the host PC doesn’t make too much difference, except when it comes to disk access times, which of course drop significantly on the faster PCs.
From what I gather, Hydra designed the ANDOR ONE so it can share a PC hard disk much as SoftPC shares a Mac disk by creating a single file that looks like an entire hard disk inside. I’d prefer to have be able to see all the PC files from within the Finder and all the Mac files from within DOS, but it doesn’t look like ANDOR can do that. However, with some clever software, Hydra has made it possible for the ANDOR to read, but not format, Macintosh 400K and 800K (but not 1.4 MB) floppies directly in most 3.5" PC floppy drives, which is something of a feat. Realizing that the PC connectivity is still limited in terms of connecting to Macintosh peripherals, Hydra also put two SCSI ports (one 50-pin and one 25-pin) and an AppleTalk RS-422 port on the ANDOR card, so you can still hook up directly to most Macintosh peripherals directly.
I played with one of these running on a 486 at Macworld, and it did indeed run all the standard Mac software that was installed on their hard drive, including PageMaker 4.0 and Word 4.0. The speed was certainly acceptable, though not on the level of an SE/30, and the only problem I had was that I couldn’t figure out how they had mapped the option key. The PC Alt key seemed to equate to the Mac command key, and shift did what you’d expect, but control did not equal option. It’s not a big deal, and I probably just missed it, but I’d hate to be without an option key in PageMaker and many other applications.
The ANDOR ONE is not cheap at $995 list price, and adding 4 MB of RAM and the Mac ROMs will add another $600 or so. The question comes up immediately: "Why should I buy this instead of a Classic?" Hydra provides four answers to this question, three of which are pretty good (I said that they did their homework). The first answer is that the ANDOR ONE is faster. That’s true, but big deal, so is a PowerBook 100 and I’d far rather have a PowerBook 100 than a Classic. However, Hydra goes on to point out that an ANDOR, because of its host PC, has many more networking options than a normal Mac, an ANDOR ONE can run both PC and Mac software at full speed, and finally, purchasing restrictions may prevent some people from buying a true Macintosh but a PC card that happened to run Macintosh software would be OK. I like the way these people think, but I’m afraid that unless they significantly reduce the price of the ANDOR ONE it won’t sell particularly well.
Hydra Systems — 408/253-5800
Word is starting to sound like Old MacDonald’s Farm: "E I E I O." As promised, Microsoft released version 4.00E of Word to resolve problems with Word and the 68040 caches. If you have a Quadra and don’t want to upgrade to Word 5.0, which also works with the 68040 caches enabled, you can get a free upgrade to 4.00E by calling tech support or customer service. Support for the Quadras is the only difference between Word 4.00E and 4.00D, the current version, and Microsoft has not tested 4.00E on machines other than the Quadras since there’s no real point – most people will either be happy with 4.00D or will upgrade to 5.0.
It’s high time to clear up some confusion about various versions of Word. The program version is 4.00E, but the invoice version is 4.00I and it will appear on the invoice as such, confusing the heck out of everyone in sight. Microsoft knows about this "bug" and is working to fix it, but remember, the 4.00I revision is completely imaginary and was made up by the invoice elves that inhabit Microsoft’s mainframes and are known to play tricks late at night when only the Windows debugging teams are still awake.
Actually, the Word 5.0 debugging teams are also cluttering the atmosphere with the by-products of some midnight oil, trying to fix a problem that appears only on 68000 machines. It seems that if you are running on a 68000 machine and open the Grammar Checker, Word occasionally crashes for no known reason. Microsoft is aware of the problem and is trying to gather more information about it since it hasn’t been tracked down any further than we’ve just described.
Microsoft Customer Service — 800/426-9400
Microsoft Mac Word Technical Support — 206/635-7200
Perfect timing once again. Just after we send out our issue on System 7 with information about a couple of problems it has, another pops up. Apparently a few people, not a lot, have been having files and folders disappear mysteriously from their hard drives. Using the Finder’s Find command will make them temporarily reappear, but at first it seemed that the only way to fix the problem was to reformat the hard disk and restore from a backup. Now it appears that you can fix the problem by forcing the Mac to rebuild the Desktop DB and Desktop DF files manually (by using a utility like DiskTop to make them visible, renaming them differently and then rebooting, or by using the Desktop Reset utility that ships to registered users of Salient’s DiskDoubler and AutoDoubler). I’m not sure why you can’t use the normal method of holding down command-option when the Mac starts up to rebuild the desktop, but no one has mentioned that as a fix yet and I haven’t lost any folders so that I can test it. For that matter, restarting under System 6 and then again under System 7 might have the same effect.
The bug does not appear to discriminate (that’s what we like, equal-opportunity bugs) in that it affects users of System 7 and 7.0.1 on different types of Macs and different brands of hard drives. Once again, Apple knows about the bug and is working to fix it (what do you think – they’d just apologize and throw up their hands?). If you feel the need, you can call Apple Customer Service, but I’d recommend just fixing the problem.
Apple Customer Assistance — 800/776-2333
MacWEEK — 03-Feb-92, Vol. 6, #5, pg. 3
MacWEEK — 27-Jan-92, Vol. 6, #4, pg. 1