Where to start? We have news about a new Newton due out soon, an extremely cheap 300 dpi PostScript Level 2 printer, and even more information about the PowerPC-based Macs due in just two weeks. Mark Anbinder reports on an inexpensive network fax package and CE’s acquisition of Powercore; Microsoft loses a lawsuit and $120 million to Stac; and finally ON Technology CEO Chris Risley replies to Dave Thompson’s article on Meeting Maker last week.
More ARA — Peter Kaufman <[email protected]> passes along word from Cayman Systems that they have no plans to add ARA 2.0 support to the GatorLink. Mark’s "ARA Options" article in TidBITS #213 conveyed our assumption that they’d upgrade in the near future. Shiva does plan an upgrade, probably late second quarter or early third quarter of 1994 (i.e. summer ’94 for those in the northern hemisphere). They’re not certain whether the update will be software (which can be downloaded to the device) or a firmware (ROM) swap, or a combination.
Meanwhile, Thomas Collins <[email protected]> chides us for forgetting APT Communications and their hardware ARA server. Thomas says that APT’s "excellent line of routers" (his company has about eighty APT units on its wide area network) includes at least one ARA unit, with three modem ports, that currently supports ARA 1.0. A software upgrade for ARA 2.0 compatibility is due in a few months.
APT Communications — 800/842-0626 — 301/874-5255 (fax) — [email protected]
Shawn Ramer <[email protected]> writes:
In TidBITS #213 you mentioned how PowerTalk could delete email when a gateway service is removed. This just happened to me but I was able to recover by restoring from a backup three files in the PowerTalk Data folder:
System Folder:PowerTalk Data:WSBTree
System Folder:PowerTalk Data:IPM Bin:QMgrCatalog
System Folder:PowerTalk Data:IPM Bin:QMgrPrefs
And since we all back up obsessively, this is a great solution, right?
Since even before Apple introduced the MessagePad in August, we’ve been tantalized with pictures and descriptions of the Newtons of the future. They’ve come in all shapes and sizes, ranging from MessagePad-type pocket PDAs, to notebook-sized slates, all the way up to wall-sized units that might be the chalkboard of the 21st century.
Word on the street has Apple preparing to release the second member of the Newton family, an enhanced and streamlined version of the MessagePad, code-named "Lindy." The new model will feature 1 MB of RAM compared to the MessagePad’s 640K, which just about triples the amount of space available for user information. (Several hundred kilobytes are set aside for the system.) Among the improvements in the firmware are improved handwriting recognition and deferred recognition of text written in "digital ink."
Outside, the next Newton is narrower and a little taller, and sports a flip-up screen cover that folds behind the unit when you use it. The pen will be round, not flat.
The best word of all? Newton "pioneers" will be able to upgrade their existing MessagePads with the new ROM for a sum reported to be on the order of $100. Upgraded MessagePads will benefit from the handwriting recognition and other operational improvements, but will still have 640K of RAM.
The latest rumors say that Apple moved the new Newton’s introduction from late March to early March, in order to ensure Newton hoopla doesn’t get lost in PowerPC frenzy. If you’re waiting for the slate-sized Newton, though, keep waiting. That’s not expected to arrive until late this year at the earliest.
— Information from:
Technical Support Coordinator, BAKA Computers
What’s the bargain of the decade? Rumors of the upcoming Apple PowerPC accelerator cards aside, a remarkable deal I’m surprised isn’t talked about more is the DEClaser 1152 laser printer, at $699.
Okay, so that’s a bit of a convoluted sentence. My apologies. To rephrase: Digital Equipment Corporation offers a 300 dpi, PostScript Level 2 laser printer at a retail price of $699. It uses a four-page-per-minute Canon laser marking engine, supports Hewlett-Packard’s PCL4, and has serial, parallel, and AppleTalk ports to support Macs, DOS, Windows, and other platforms. It’s been available since 1992, but we must have been napping.
The AppleTalk port doubles as a second serial port, and in that configuration all three ports are active at once. With the port in AppleTalk mode, that and the parallel port can be simultaneously active. The printer automatically selects PostScript or PCL4 for each job it receives.
Apple’s closest-competitor offerings are the Personal LaserWriter 320, which has PostScript but lacks PCL4 and costs an extra few hundred dollars, and the LaserWriter Select 360, which has all of the 1152’s features, offers 600 dpi instead of 300, and sells for more than twice as much. Hewlett-Packard, also a big player in the Mac printer market, has its LaserJet 4ML in the same range as the Personal LaserWriter 320, and the LaserJet 4M costs even more than the LaserWriter Select 360.
Is the DEClaser 1152 the printer for everyone? Hardly. It’s not particularly fast, its font selection is reminiscent of a 1985 LaserWriter (though it fully supports PostScript or TrueType fonts you might install on your Mac or PC), and 300 dpi isn’t exciting these days. But as an entry-level printer – with inkjet or non-PostScript laser printers as the only competitively-priced options – it’s worth a peek, especially if you need cross-platform capabilities.
Digital Equipment Corporation — 800/332-4636 — 508/493-5111
For a long time, there were no Mac-oriented network fax products. You could send faxes from your very own fax modem, hooked directly to your Mac, or stand in line to use your office fax machine. Then, there were several network fax solutions, but the good ones were expensive. Recently, CommFORCE, L.C., who publishes one of the best, introduced a "low-end" version better suited to small-business budgets.
4-Sight Small Site, the latest offering from CommFORCE, is based on the company’s 4-Sight Fax product (created by 4-Sight International, Ltd., a small company in Great Britain), but stripped down for smaller networks. The new product is designed for networks of ten or fewer users, and includes a Zoom V.32bis fax modem. The retail price for software and modem together is $995.
As with the "industrial-strength" version, Small Site allows faxing from within a document, custom cover pages, user notification of successful or failed transmissions, delayed transmission, and accounting. It also incorporates LineShare software from Stalker Software, which allows both fax and data software to share the modem, using "virtual ports" created by LineShare. LineShare analyzes incoming calls and hands them to the correct "virtual port," thereby handing control over to the fax or data application.
The complete 4-Sight Fax product is capable of handling thousands of users from a single server, and supports up to eight fax modems, all of which can be in use simultaneously. (Multi-port serial cards such as the Hurdler from Creative Solutions or the QuadraLink DMA from Applied Engineering would of course be necessary if you want to use more than two modems.) The complete package also supports optional QuickMail and Microsoft Mail gateways, so you can fax email messages.
Both 4-Sight Fax and its Small Site cousin use a client/server approach, as do most other network fax solutions. The user simply "prints" through a Chooser-level driver, or if an email gateway is installed, just mails the message, with files to be faxed added as attachments. The fax server software, installed on a centrally-accessible Mac, takes over the faxing process, and optionally reports back to the user when the fax has been sent successfully, or when it gives up trying.
4-Sight’s user interface rivals the GlobalFax software (included with Global Village’s TelePort and PowerPort modems) for intuitiveness and functionality, and if it doesn’t quite win the match-up, that’s nothing to be ashamed of. Of course, sending through an email gateway couldn’t be easier: you simply address your mail to the gateway, providing the fax number as though it were an email address.
At $995 just to get in the door, 4-Sight won’t quite eclipse the popularity of standalone fax modems, but it’s certainly economical when compared with outfitting several users at your organization with fax modems and extra phone lines.
CommFORCE, L.C. — 515/224-0211 — 800/448-3299 (fax)
For those of you who remember back almost exactly a year, last winter Stac Electronics filed a suit against Microsoft, alleging that Microsoft infringed on Stac’s compression patents (TidBITS #164). Read back for the entire sordid tale, but the upshot is that a jury agreed with Stac that Microsoft had infringed, and awarded Stac $120 million in damages for the past infringement. That may sound like a lot, but Microsoft sold a lot of copies of MS-DOS 6.0 and 6.2 in the last year and it’s small change to a company with $2.3 billion in petty cash. Stac isn’t entirely in the clear though, since the jury also ruled in Microsoft’s favor in a counter-suit that Stac misappropriated Microsoft trade secrets, which was only one of seven of Microsoft’s counterclaims. The jury awarded Microsoft $13.6 million in damages as a result of Stac using undocumented calls in an attempt to make Stacker 3.1 compatible with Microsoft’s undocumented data compression interface in MS-DOS 6.0.
Needless to say, both Microsoft and Stac say that they were innocent of any wrongdoing in the areas in which the jury found each guilty. Just once, I’d like to see a corporate lawyer to crack in court and start screaming "Yes, we did it! We stole their code. And we loved every minute of it! Ha ha ha ha!" Microsoft of course plans an appeal, no doubt hoping, if nothing else, to drag the suit out long enough to prevent Stac from being able to keep fighting.
Stac is seeking to have unsold copies of MS-DOS, including those pre-installed on computers, recalled, and Microsoft has already released a MS-DOS 6.2.1, which removes the DoubleSpace utility.
There are two interesting issues raised by this case. Stac was found guilty of appropriating (that’s stealing in legal-speak, I suspect) Microsoft’s secret "pre-loading" feature used in data compression. Now, this might in part be related to the fact that Stac had access to a beta of MS-DOS 6.0 (at which point there are different contractual agreements at stake), but the larger question is if using an undocumented call in an operating system is a violation of a trade secret? It would seem not, since the features in an operating system exist in part to provide services to other programs and utilities. If a call is undocumented and you use it, you certainly can’t expect help from the OS folks, nor can you complain when your program breaks. But are you stealing a trade secret?
Related to this is the question of Microsoft’s monopolistic leanings – not only did they include an undocumented feature in MS-DOS 6.0 for private use (a standard practice), but when someone uses that undocumented call to compete, they sue. We’re not talking about a direct competitor here, since MS-DOS’s DoubleSpace isn’t sold separately, and it’s not as though Stac itself sells versions of DOS (although to be fair, I believe Stacker is bundled with some other versions of DOS). So I could see an argument made that claims Microsoft plays dirty with third-party developers like Stac. I don’t know if that’s necessarily illegal, but I’m sure the FTC will evince some interest.
The second issue raised is even quirkier. You may have heard some of the hubbub surrounding the issue of software patents, which can cover such seemingly basic ideas as "cut and paste between files" (IBM patent #4,674,040). Many of these patented ideas have been arrived at independently, but often still run afoul of often-ludicrous royalties demanded by the owners. Another issue is the way in which the U.S. Patent Office conducts its reviews – some claim that the Patent Office’s review board is not sufficiently qualified for the task and that the review process is cloaked in secrecy, meaning that a company can be liable for royalties well after they have independently developed a technology someone else just patented.
I’m distinctly not as up on these issues as I might be, but I wanted to mention them before 15-Mar-94, when the U.S. Patent Office stops taking comments from individuals for use in determining how the patent process should be changed for software. You can email comments to <[email protected]> and if you want more information about why software patents are detrimental, email the League for Programming Freedom at <[email protected]>. I don’t know of a source for arguments in favor of software patents.
The reason this comes up in relation to the Stac/Microsoft suit is that Stac president Gary Clow said that Stac had shown that patent protection is one way small companies can fight back against behemoths like Microsoft. That’s an interesting argument, and it’s certainly valid, although Stac has used its patents to beat up on still smaller companies in the past as well (Salient and Sigma Designs, over the DoubleUp compression board – see TidBITS #164), so patents are not inherently a Robin Hood weapon. In addition, there are companies that do nothing more than purchase patents for the sole purpose of licensing them and collecting royalties. I don’t believe that’s the intention behind patent law, which, after all, was designed to handle physical machinery with its attendant huge research and development costs.
CE Software, Inc., maker of QuickMail and QuicKeys, announced today that it has signed a binding letter of intent to acquire all assets of Powercore, Inc., a developer of Macintosh and DOS network scheduling software. CE plans to integrate Powercore’s Network Scheduler 3 and Schedule/DOS products (for which Powercore claims the majority of the LAN calendar and scheduling market) with their QuickMail LAN messaging software.
Once the acquisition is finalized, CE Software says it will be able to boast the third largest installed base of LAN-based workgroup productivity applications, behind Microsoft and Lotus, with an estimate of "well over 2.8 million" workgroup software users. (This may be even more impressive than it sounds; many users that Microsoft and Lotus count in their installed bases don’t actually use the workgroup features of the software.)
Powercore’s market-share claim is based on a study by IDC released in 1993 that shows the company’s products with 62% of the installed "seats," or defined users. The company has been selling its workgroup scheduling products since 1986, well before it was a "hot" field. Powercore’s competitors’ market share does not, of course, include owners of multi-purpose software that includes scheduling features that aren’t being used. It also doesn’t include the recent spurt of market share Microsoft has claimed by distributing a large number of free copies of Schedule+ along with Windows.
A key feature of CE’s plans for current products and future development is the software’s independence from specific network operating systems. Powercore’s Network Scheduler 3 is designed to operate using a variety of transport mechanisms; the company has been selling configurations for use with specific LAN-based mail backbones such as cc:Mail, Microsoft Mail, and Novell’s Netware MHS, as well as configurations that operate without an existing mail server.
CE Software has been taking an active role in the XAPIA committee and Novell’s MHS Alliance, groups that are working towards industry-wide interoperability of mail systems and other workgroup applications regardless of platform or network operating system. The XAPIA committee is a group of messaging vendors developing an extension to the Common Messaging Call (CMC) standard. CE’s suggested CMC+ implementation offers an internal API which "can gain access to virtually all commercially-viable messaging systems without loss of key application services," the company said.
Powercore’s CEO, Ruchard Juricic, sees his company’s acquisition by CE as creating "a union of markets and technologies that open up dynamic new opportunities today, and positions CE Software as a leader in cross-platform workgroup applications for the future." Ford Goodman, CE’s president and CEO, agreed, saying "We intend to offer the best calendaring and scheduling solutions in the industry, regardless of network operating system or protocol, application, or platform."
For the time being, Powercore will continue to operate with its own identity. A company representative has told us that no final decision has yet been reached as to whether Powercore will remain a separate entity following completion of the acquisition.
Previously, CE Software experimented with satisfying customer demands for workgroup scheduling by offering ON Technology’s Meeting Maker software in bundles with QuickMail products. CE’s own Alarming Events software, while it was easy to use and rich in features, was limited to single-user calendars.
CE Software, Inc. — 800/523-7635 — 515/221-1801
Powercore, Inc. — 800/237-4754 — 815/468-3737
— Information from:
CE Software propaganda
When I announced the Caveat Emptor column, I stated specifically that I was only interested in articles that could result in a positive effect for the Macintosh community. I’m pleased to say that Dave Thompson’s article in TidBITS #214 has had that effect.
Dave asked me to clarify that his actual title is "Manager of Networking Services for Computing Analysis Corporation," which counts ARPA among its clients. His official email address is <[email protected]>.
Chris Risley <[email protected]>, CEO of ON Technology writes:
Your article in TidBITS came as complete surprise to me. I had been told that ARPA was sending someone up with the data to have it repaired.
You are correct that Meeting Maker 1.5 (released two years ago, Mac only) was not adequately designed to support several Meeting Maker Servers as you have at ARPA. It sometimes does result in bad data being exchanged between servers. This problem has not occurred at sites running that version with a single server.
You are not correct that this problem can occur at sites running Meeting Maker XP, our Mac/Windows cross-platform product (released in July 1993). The architecture of the Meeting Maker XP product is completely different from the ground up. That is one of the reasons that we encourage people to migrate to Meeting Maker XP as we feel it is a more stable platform.
Where a data problem with the old Meeting Maker 1.5 product has occurred we have endeavored to correct it for our customers. We have often been sent disks of Meeting Maker Server data, had Kelly repair the data, and then Federal Expressed the disks back at no charge to the customer.
ARPA presented unique problems in regard to data repair because you were not prepared to provide the data to us. Kelly is a unique resource as she has the most skill and experience with the old Meeting Maker 1.5 product. We are understandably reluctant to have her go on site with one customer and therefore make her unavailable for our thousands of other customers.
At ON we try to empower managers to make the best judgments they can about how to help customers in each situation considering the needs of other customers and our support resources. This sometimes results in problems, as it may have in this case, but it usually results in better decisions because the people making the calls are closer to the action. In the case of Meeting Maker 1.5 it is particularly difficult to allocate support resources since most of the new support people are better able to help Meeting Maker XP customers.
I am very sorry that your server went down and that the Director’s account was one of the casualties. I am particularly sorry that you had to confront the front office over this problem. I’m sure that you recognize that your ARPA security needs made it particularly difficult for Kelly to resolve this problem for you and that she could have helped most customers in similar circumstances. I hope that you will reconsider your desire to move away from ON’s products and that in order to minimize risk that you will consider migrating to Meeting Maker XP where this problem does not occur.
Dave Thompson <[email protected]> responds:
We are sorry for the miscommunication which has lead to this situation. I am scheduled to speak with Mr. Risley on 28-Feb-94, and I look forward to trying to resolve the situation to our mutual satisfaction.
The people at ARPA have a had a long term relationship with ON Technology, and it would be in everyone’s best interest to maintain that relationship. The folks at ON have invested a great deal of time and money in developing their reputation as a company which cares about their customers. I feel confident that they will demonstrate this commitment by working with us and taking steps to insure that this situation is never repeated. I am certain that they realize that this would be best for their company, their customers, and the Macintosh community as a whole.
Reports flowed in over the past week from kind readers with extra bits of information to share about the upcoming PowerPC introductions, as well as a few corrections. With just two weeks left before the Power Macs arrive (whatever they might be called), we’re pleased to have the latest facts (and speculations) to share.
SoftWindows Performance — The biggest single point of contention in comments we received disagrees with our statement that the low-end 6100 model will be too slow to run SoftWindows. Word is that – even at the low end – the PowerPC Macs provide sufficient Windows responsiveness to impress even staunch DOS-heads. Some said it "felt" like a 33 MHz 486 computer, but were disappointed to hear that SoftWindows emulates the 286 chip, and so might not support some software that requires a 486. Insignia has apparently promised an update to SoftWindows, with proper 486 emulation, around the middle of this year. One reader characterized SoftWindows performance on the high-end Power Mac 8100 as "way screamin."
Upgrades — Another issue of great interest to many is the PowerPC upgrade picture. We’re sorry to say that logic board upgrades will only be available for three "boxes" or "form factors" – the Centris & Quadra 610/660AV box to the Power Mac 6100; the Performa 600, IIvx, and Centris/Quadra 650 box to the Power Mac 7100; and the Quadra 800/840AV box to the Power Mac 8100. (The Workgroup Server 60 and 80 models are included.)
The rest of the computers we listed last week (TidBITS #214) will be eligible for PDS card upgrades. The 1 MB RAM cache on these cards probably won’t make upgraded Macs faster than the low-end "original" Power Macs, we’re told, but should help make up for the performance bottleneck the machine would otherwise suffer from the PowerPC chip not having direct access to the RAM. These cards will run at twice the clock speed of the "host" computer, presumably to take advantage of the machine’s own clock crystal.
Povl H. Pedersen <[email protected]> tells us that Apple is advertising free PowerPC PDS upgrade cards in Denmark to entice hesitant buyers into buying a Quadra now. In the U.S., recent Quadra price drops and rebates – see TidBITS #212 and #214 – are having a similar effect. Another reader, who asked to remain nameless, said that our prediction that upgrade pricing "should start at less than $1,000" was conservative, and while he didn’t specify a price, added that "Waaaaaay less" would be more accurate.
Configurations — It’s interesting to hear that the Power Mac 7100 and 8100 models have processor-direct slots that are already filled, right from the factory. In the "regular" configurations, the included PDS card has 1 MB of video memory (or VRAM) on the 7100 and 2 MB on the 8100 (which upgrade to 2 MB and 4 MB, respectively), to support a second external monitor right out of the box. The AV models have a special AV PDS card installed instead, with all of the AV features built in.
The Power Mac configurations that will ship with a bundled copy of SoftWindows will reportedly include 16 MB of memory.
One reader pointed out that, as in the Centris and Quadra 610 models, the slot provided is actually a PDS that can be used as a NuBus slot (for cards up to seven inches in length) with the addition of an adapter. It’s not technically a NuBus slot.
Closing Ceremonies — MacWEEK reported this week that a Power Mac 6100/60 they managed to test without Apple’s knowledge performed impressively, running almost all of 100 applications and 33 extensions from a loaded Quadra 840AV. Of these, only two minor applications failed under emulation mode. They pegged emulation speed at just a bit faster than a Duo 270c with a 33 MHz 68030. Not too shabby.
Thanks, gentle readers, for sharing what you’ve overheard around the office water cooler these last couple of weeks. We’re certainly looking forward to Apple’s PowerPC unveiling two weeks from today. Warm up your satellite dish – we’ll pass along downlink details next week so you can watch the introduction live.
— Information from: