by Mark Anbinder, News Editor <email@example.com>
On the heels of last week's Mactivity conference, which showcased Macintosh connectivity technology, Ontario-based SoftArc, Inc. released version 2.7 of its FirstClass Client software for Macintosh. The new version of its email and group conferencing client software doesn't offer significant changes in functionality, but offers native PowerPC performance.
SoftArc is now shipping three separate flavors of the FirstClass Client to satisfy all tastes. A version for 68K Macintosh systems still works in emulation on Power Macs; a pure native PowerPC version works only on Power Macs. The third, a fat binary, is about a third again as large as the others, but contains all the code necessary to run to best advantage on either 68K or PowerPC technology.
The client software updates are available at no cost. All three are available from SoftArc Online, the company's own FirstClass support headquarters, which can be reached on the Internet via FirstClass itself at 22.214.171.124 (port 3004) or by modem at 905-415-7070. They're also available via anonymous FTP; pointers are on the Web at:
For assistance connecting to SoftArc Online over the Internet, look at Ed Leslie's page at:
SoftArc says version 2.7 fixes a few minor bugs that most users would never notice. The software also now includes support for over 500 different modem types. Readers without Power Macintosh systems or with already-supported modems may not want to bother downloading the software via a long-distance modem connection, but those with other downloading options will at least get to enjoy the snazzy new globe graphics for their trouble. (If you have the disk space, we recommend downloading and installing the fat binary version. You'll always be prepared for an upgrade, and you'll always have the right version to give a friend.) It's worth noting that the main bottleneck in the performance of the FirstClass Client is usually your modem or network connection; using a Power Mac-native version of the FirstClass Client isn't going to make either of those things any faster.
Testers have reported that the new client software works with Apple's Open Transport networking technology (so far shipping only with the Power Macintosh 9500 systems), though SoftArc hasn't claimed official compatibility. The FirstClass Server software, still at version 2.6, has no PowerPC native version, though SoftArc has said they plan such a release. Meanwhile, FirstClass Server 2.6 (available as a free upgrade to registered users, only on SoftArc Online) supports the Modern Memory Manager on Power Mac systems, which gives it a slight performance advantage over version 2.5. (Until more of the I/O portion of the Mac OS is native and Open Transport is available for general use, the FirstClass Server would gain little from native code.)
SoftArc has also mentioned plans for an upcoming Intel-based server package and a Windows client that offers the styled text capabilities of its Macintosh cousin.
SoftArc -- 905/415-7000 -- 905/415-7151 (fax) -- <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Ed Leslie <email@example.com>