Apple Windows?-- Software for the rest of us?

review of Claris Works 1.0 for Windows

by Alan Zisman (c) 1994. First published in Our Computer Player, March 18, 1994

Russian translation completed by Ukessay

For many people, back in the early days of personal computing,
running Apple Computer's AppleWorks integrated program on an Apple
II computer was as good as it came.

Imagine... word processing, and spreadsheet, and database. All in a
single application. Later versions, such as AppleWorks GS added nice
graphics and mouse support.

But on Apple's own Macintosh, and on DOS-PCs, low-cost integrated
packages eventually came to mean one product: Microsoft Works. Sure,
there were other integrated programs... high priced ones like Lotus
Symphony or Ashton-Tate Framework or low priced PFS-Works or Alpha
Works (later Lotus Works) on the PC or Symantec Great Works or
Beagle Works (now from Word Perfect) on the Mac. But on both
platforms, Microsoft seemed to own that software category.

Until recently, that is. Apple's Claris software division finally
struck back, with its highly-rated Claris Works wresting the
number one spot in sales and in critical regard on the Macintosh

And now, Claris has moved its product onto Microsoft's home turf,
the massive Windows market, hoping to repeat its coup.

Claris Works ver 1.0 for Windows is a slick product, bringing its
classy Mac heritage with it, down to its artsy icon. While the
newest version of MS-Works for Windows demands up to 13 meg of your hard
drive, a full install of Claris Works requires a svelte 4 megs.

Unlike Microsoft Works, which in its DOS, Mac, or Windows versions
is based on separate modules for each application type, Claris
Works is document centered... a single document can contain word
processing, graphics, and a spreadsheet-table, for example. While
Microsoft uses the clipboard to move information from a
spreadsheet file to a word processing file, in a Claris Works
document, that table IS a spreadsheet.

You add frames for graphics, frames for text, frames for
spreadsheets... the menu bar changes to reflect the currently
active frame. And this lets you create surprising sophisticated

Since the word processor supports multiple columns and linked text
frames, while letting you work with the graphical tools as well,
you can use it for a lot of basic DTP.

The spreadsheet is limited in size... only 500 by 40 columns and
rows, but its 100 functions still provide a great deal of
usability. Seven basic charting styles include some classy 3D
effects. Unlike MS-Works ver 2 (but not the newest MS-Works ver 3
for Windows), you can mix and match fonts, sizes, and styles in a
single worksheet.

The database, a scaled-down version of Claris' FileMaker Pro, also
available in Mac and Windows versions, is easy to use. You can
start by entering field names, and dragging them around to create
a data entry form. The database can be combined with the word
processor for mail merge.

A particularly nice touch in this program is its file importing.
Not only can it import a wide range of Mac and PC file types, but
you can open an imported file simply by draggings icon from File
Manager into an open Claris Works window. Unfortunately, one
format that can't be imported are files produced by Claris Works
ver 2.0 for the Mac. Strange, but true.

Unlike the Mac version, the Windows version lacks a communications
module, relying on the Windows Terminal program. If, like me, you'
ve long ago deleted the low-powered Terminal, you're out of luck
here. Microsoft has noticed the lack, adding a beefier
communications module to the latest MS-Works.

Windows makes it easy to create compound documents... files
combining word processing, spreadsheet, database, and graphics as
needed. Easy that is, if you have 40-100 megs of the latest
applications, and have learned to use them all. That's part of the
promise of the recent fad for Suites of applications from a single

But with most users only really using 10-25% of the power of these
major league applications, there's still a place for the more
humble 'Works' programs.

Claris Works has not only taken over that product niche on the
Mac... in Windows, it proves to be a little application with a lot
of personality and spunk. Claris will happily send out a free
working model; with its unique approach, it deserves a serious

(Note from the year 2003): The above article was originally published in 1994, as a review. A decade and more later, I've gotten a series of emails from  fans hoping that I could sell them a copy of this software or direct them to a place where it is still available. While I have reviewed software since 1991, I am not a vendor of r any products. I suggest to everyone looking for copies of older software to check at eBay or at you check on my Files webpages, you'll find links to a number of (mostly freeware) downloadable software, some of which may be good replacements for older programs.
-- AZ (September 15, 2003)


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Alan Zisman is a Vancouver educator, writer, and computer specialist. He can be reached at E-mail Alan