by Mark H. Anbinder, News Editor -- email@example.com
Director of Technical Services, Baka Industries Inc.
In 1984, Apple shipped Macintosh with virtually no third-party software available. Almost at the last minute, the company made up for the shortage of ready-to-ship software by including its own MacWrite and MacPaint products at no charge. Critics have said Apple's success or failure in 1994 will depend upon ready availability of software for the Power Macintosh line.
The good news is that, unlike the original Macintosh, the Power Macintosh machines have the advantage of a huge supply of existing Mac software, the vast majority of which work without modification. Apple's tests and independent testing show that virtually all common productivity software works fine. Only software that's excessively dependent on specific hardware is likely to have trouble.
Even better, Apple's evangelists have been hard at work lining up developers to create new PowerPC-ready programs, or convert existing software to use "native" PowerPC code. In addition, you can run Windows on a Power Mac using SoftWindows, a native application from Insignia Solutions.
In fact, SoftWindows is shipping on every Power Macintosh going out the door - as a limited-use demo version. Insignia evidently hopes that everyone buying a Power Mac will be so enthralled with the concept of running DOS and Windows software that they'll take one look at SoftWindows and run right back to the dealer to buy a copy. We're a little skeptical, since most people who'll need or want SoftWindows already know they do, but we have to admit it's a great way to build additional awareness of what the combination of a Power Mac and SoftWindows can do.
A number of native programs currently shipping include processor-intensive products that take advantage of the Power Mac speed boost. For example, users of Specular International's Infini-D software demand the fastest possible hardware so as to cut down on the long stretches of waiting time while the program renders its images. Specular's gamble - that these users are carrying home a Power Mac 8100 as I write this - is likely to pay off. Similarly, Fractal Design Painter takes advantage of a PowerPC's horsepower to chug through those complex filters.
Applause to WordPerfect Corporation, whose PowerPC-native word processor for Power Macintosh shows the just how serious WordPerfect is about the Macintosh. WordPerfect Mac 3.0 took most of our doubts away, but it's nice to see this level of commitment to keeping ahead, rather than keeping up. Microsoft (typically in front at least where market share is concerned) claims it will ship native versions of Excel, Word, Works, PowerPoint, and Office by mid-year. Microsoft also announced a "Power Guarantee" offer. If you purchase Word, Excel, PowerPoint, or Office, on or after 01-Apr-94 (so hold off buying any Microsoft applications for two weeks!), Microsoft will give you a free upgrade to the next version - either a 680x0 version or a Power Mac version, your choice. Adobe announced a similar policy starting today, and we expect other companies to follow suit to avoid alienating customers who must buy now but need a PowerPC-native version of the program as soon as it's available.
Central Point's MacTools may seem an odd product to go native early, but when you think about it, software that must work so intensively and so directly with the SCSI and file management routines in the Mac Toolbox might as well speak the same language. Context switching between native and emulated code, whether within the application or in the toolbox, is likely to be a big factor in the slowness of non-native applications. We've also heard that Dayna's ProFiles software shipped today in a native version.
Upcoming releases planned for the next few weeks include ClarisWorks and ClarisImpact, Apple's own PhotoFlash software, DeltaPoint's DeltaGraph Pro, Frame Technology's FrameMaker, ArchiCAD and MiniCAD from Graphisoft, form*Z from auto*des*sys, Wolfram Research's Mathematica, Ray Dream Designer, Strata's StudioPro, VideoFusion and QuickFLIX! from VideoFusion, Visual Information's Presenter Professional, and the Virtus and WalkThrough lines from Virtus.
Other developers planning PowerPC-native applications for release during the first half of 1994 include RasterOps, Quark, Nisus, Macromedia, Gryphon, Deneba, Dantz, Aldus, Aladdin, Adobe, and ACI US.
Central Point Software -- 503/690-8090
Dayna Communications -- 800/531-0600 -- 801/531-0600
Fractal Design Corporation -- 408/688-8800
Insignia Solutions -- 800/848-7677 -- 415/694-7600
Microsoft Corporation -- 800/227-4679 -- 206/882-8080
WordPerfect Corporation -- 800/321-4566 -- 801/225-5000