Old alternative reborn as New Deal
by Alan Zisman
(c) 1998. First
published in Computer Player, June 1998
New Deal Office Suite/New Deal School Suite
Minimum platform: 640 kb 286 with 9 megs of hard drive
from: New Deal, Inc.
(800) 985-4263 or (514) 633-6370
So imagine it?s 1990. You?ve got a powerful PC, say a
286 running at
12 MHz, with a full 1 meg of RAM, maybe 2 megs even. A big 40 meg hard
And you?ve heard of this new program from Microsoft,
it?s getting a
lot of hype in the media. It?s called Windows 3.0. It?s supposed to let
you run graphical programs, and even multitask?run more than one
at a time. So you buy a copy.
And it makes your powerful machine run in slow motion.
And it crashes,
often, saying something about an ?Unexplainable Application Error? or
And maybe, if you?re lucky, you hear about a program
Ensemble, from a little company in Berkeley. It makes the same sorts of
promises as Windows 3.0, but it actually runs in something resembling
time on your hardware.
But outside of the sample applications that come in
the box, there?s
no software for it. And it seems like the whole world is moving to
So, somewhat reluctantly, you upgrade your hardware. You get a 386SX16.
And then a 386DX33. And a 486. And a Pentium. And then?
And meanwhile, Windows 3.0 is replaced by Windows 3.1,
and by Windows
for Workgroups. And Windows 95, and Windows 98. And maybe you should
of moving to Windows NT.
And you sort of lose track of those GeoWorks people.
to them, anyway? Nice idea, but it seems you just can?t fight
So now, suddenly, it?s 1998. Tens of millions of users
new computers, running powerful new software. But also tens of millions
of computers and computer users abandoned by the never-ending push for
newer, faster, more powerful.
From nowhere, though, GeoWorks returns, with a new
name, a new company,
and spiffed up for the new millennium. New Deal, based in
Massachussetts (the Berkeley of the East Coast) and Montreal, and run
a former GeoWorks vice-president, has licensed the GeoWorks Ensemble
and has released it in two versions, as New Deal School Suite and New
Office Suite, aimed at schools, non-profits, homes, and offices running
older PC hardware.
In case you missed it the first time around,
GeoWorks/New Deal features
an operating environment that, like early versions of Windows, runs on
top of DOS. It offers an attractive graphical user interface, based on
Unix Motif. It runs happily on 286 and 386 computers with as little as
2 megs of RAM?4 megs makes it really happy.
It supports long file names, multitasking New Deal
not DOS applications), and offers well-implemented drag and drop
virtually anything and anything else, the outcome of everything being
as objects. Like Windows (any version), it comes with a collection of
a word processor, a graphics program, a calendar, modem software.
the original GeoWorks, there?s now a web browser, and Internet
But like its 1990 predecessor, there?s still no 3rd
party software to
use with it. Luckily, the collection of programs that comes with it is
reasonably competent? sort of the equivalent, say of Microsoft Works.
if you want something else, you?re out of luck.
Still, as long as you?re satisfied with what?s in the
box, you?ll find
that that 386SX-16 that you pulled out of the closet feels about as
as a Pentium running Windows 95. If you?ve been forced to work with
hardware, with no hope of replacement, or if you?ve got storerooms and
closets full of computers, invest $99 (CDN) in a copy of New
and see if it works for you. Or download the shareware version,
with interface, file management, and word processor, from the company?s