ISSUE 521: The high tech office- Oct
Apple fanatics really can enjoy the best of both
their Macs and Windows PCs
Readers with Macs may have felt left out in
recent columns as we looked at choices PC users face.
We know that many of you are ferociously attached to
your Macs. You may not have a bumper sticker reading "If you want to
take away my Mac, it'll be over my dead body," but you probably
appreciate the sentiment.
Still, you are forced to admit that the business
community is pretty much hooked on PCs. Apple has recognized
that reality and for years Macs have been able to read and write to PC
high-density floppies (at least while Macs came with floppy drives) and
recognize basic PC file types. A number of applications can also read
files created in the other platform's version.
But in many cases, these basic capabilities aren't
enough. Three products that help Macs and Windows PCs co-exist have
recently released new versions. Let's take a look.
Dataviz (www.dataviz.com) has a long
history of releasing Mac/PC compatibility products. Its core product, MacLink
Plus is now up to version 11. Earlier versions were bundled with
some versions of the Mac's system software. This is no longer the case.
If you need Mac Link Plus, you're going to have to buy it (about $159).
In a nutshell, MacLink Plus lets you read virtually
any sort of data file including word processor, spread-
sheet, graphics and more, simply by double-clinking on it, regardless
of what application created it and re-
gardless of whether it was created on a Mac or a PC. You can then view
the files in MacLink or convert them into a file format your current
applications can read.
The new version adds support for newly updated
applications such as AppleWorks 5, Microsoft Office 2000 --
which can't be read in the old version that may be bundled with your
Mac. It can also convert files that you're able to read into a format
that you can share with Mac or PC co-workers using different software.
The program can work with e-mail attachments. Its file
viewing feature is also useful for Microsoft Office users worried about
catching macro viruses through the mail. You can read the contents of
an attached Word document in MacLink without any risk of infecting your
The new version of MacLink has a much more usable
interface than the older versions. OS 8 users will find it added to the
Command-click popup menus. As an added bonus, it opens a range of
compressed files in both Mac and PC formats.
The company has also updated Conversions Plus.
It is essentially the same product, but for Windows users. If your
company has both Mac and Windows users, get both.
Sometimes, though, being able to work with PC data
files isn't enough. While you can easily work with those PC Word 97
documents in Mac Word 98, sometimes there's just no way around it. You
need to run an actual PC program.
Maybe, for instance, your company has a custom-written
database application. If you can do most of your work on your Mac, but
sometimes need a PC, you don't need to clutter your office with two
Several companies are producing PC-emulation software
that runs on a Mac. Connectix (www.connectix.com) has re-
leased a newly updated Virtual PC version 3.0. Like its main
competitor, Soft PC, Virtual PC installs as a program onto your
Mac, grabbing a bunch of hard drive space to act as a virtual PC hard
It works by the seeming-magic of emulation translating
PC machine language into the Mac equivalents. Like any other
translation, it takes time. Your virtual PC will be slower than the Mac
its running on. Modern Macs are powerful enough, however, that you will
be able to use it for most purposes. For typical office software,
e-mail and more, the speed on my 266-Mhz iMac is quite acceptable.
Like earlier versions, you can get Virtual PC bundled
with DOS (about $85), Windows 95 ($249) or Windows 98 ($289) and can
even install other PC operating systems. *