Want your Mac to talk PC? Call Dave 

by Alan Zisman (c) 2002
First published in The Computer Paper, March 2002

Dave 3.1 
From: Thursby Software 
Requires: Mac OS 8.6- 9.2 or 10.1 
Estimated price: $225, $140 (upgrade) 

If you have a mix of Mac and Windows computers at home or at work, there are a lot of advantages to being able to connect them with a network, sharing files and printers. 

Where PC MacLAN lets Windows systems connect to an existing Mac Appletalk network, Thursby Software?s Dave takes the opposite tack. It gives Macs the ability to take full part in a Windows network. 

As such, it doesn?t require any changes to your Windows systems; all software is added to the Macs. Assuming you already have a Windows network in place, a quick installation and answering a few questions in a setup wizard is all it takes to enable your Mac to join the club. 

After restarting, any Windows PC with file or printer sharing enabled will show up in the Mac Chooser, just like a native-Mac Appleshare system. Double-clicking the server name lets you select a shared printer or folder, which will appear on the Apple Desktop, ready to use. 

(Shared Windows systems do not appear in OS 9?s Network Browser, but can be accessed from a Dave icon that is installed in the Apple Menu). 

Unlike similar-sounding products like Connectix?s DoubleTalk and Thursby?s own MacSoHo, Dave gives Mac owners the option to allow their Mac to share its files and printers across the Windows network. With this option set, the Mac appears in the Windows systems? Network Neighborhoods, just as if it was another Windows computer. 

The new Dave 3.1 adds native OS 10.1 support?older versions do not work with OS X at all, not even in that operating system?s Classic mode. OS 10.1 includes basic SMB (Samba) networking support, allowing Macs to connect to Windows networking, but that support is pretty bareboned; users need to type in a command-line like ?smb://server_name/share_name? in the OS X Finder?s Connect To Server dialogue box?assuming they know the server name and share name. 

Dave simplifies this by letting OS X users browse the Windows network. As well, unlike the basic OS X capability, they can connect to more than one Windows share at a time. As with the OS 9 version, Dave users can also set their Macs to share files and printers with the Windows users. 

Unlike the OS 9 version, the OS X version of Dave cannot connect to Windows PostScript printers (Thursby claims to be working to add this capability). OS X users, however, can share select inkjet printers connected to their Mac across the network. 

Bottom-line: If you?re adding a single PC to an existing Mac network, PC MacLAN is the way to go. But if you?re adding a single Mac to a Windows network, Dave is your best bet. There?s a trial version available for download at the company?s Web site. 

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