Editorial license. (the Microsoft Windows group of products) (Editorial)
by Clifton Karnes
The Windows Developers Conference, held this past October in Santa Clara, California, showed the shape of Windows to come. As you may already know, Windows is fast becoming a family of products that share a common core of features and functions, and that idea was one of the focuses of the conference.
In Microsoft's recent ads, you see what looks like three interconnected cough drops, each representing a member of the Windows family. The first family member is Windows 3.1, the next is Windows for Workgroups, and the last is Windows NT And you've probably heard about other flavors of Windows, too--like Modular Windows, Win32s, and OLE 2.0--and wondered where these fit in the family tree.
First, Windows 3.1 is the most recent version of the operating system that's gaining popularity now. It was released last spring and is becoming the interface of choice for the majority of PC users--including COMPUTE's readers.
Windows for Workgroups is a superset of Windows 3.1 that was released last October. In addition to all of 3.1's features, WFW adds extensions for working with other Windows users over a network. It also adds improved versions of 3.1's File Manager and Clipboard plus new programs that offer scheduling, mail, and file sharing.
Both Windows 3.1 and WFW are 16-bit versions of Windows. With the exception of one 32-bit magic trick, both operating systems move data 16 bits at a time even on the latest 486 screamer.
Windows NT, however, is a full 32-bit operating system with tons of features to make it lightning fast and network-ready. With networking built in, Windows NT has something in common with WFW.
As I mentioned earlier, both Windows 3.1 and WFW are 16-bit operating systems, but a special trick lets these environments run some 32-bit code in the form of virtual device drivers, or VxDs.
Microsoft has taken advantage of this feature to create Win32s. Win32s is a subset of Windows NT that will run on Windows 3.1 or WFW using 32-bit VxDs. This gives developers and users a chance to take advantage of a measure of NT-style 32-bit computing but in Windows 3.1 or WFW.
Modular Windows is simply a subset of Windows 3.1 that's burned in ROM so that it can be used with home video systems or personal digital assistants. Modular Windows is the foundation of Tandy's new VIS home entertainment system.
This Windows family has a common interface and downward compatibility, and soon, all members (except perhaps Modular Windows) will have something else in common: OLE 2.0.
One of the most exciting things at the Developers Conference was Microsoft's announcement of OLE 2.0, a way of creating compound documents that will be a part of the common interface of Windows 3.1, WFW, Win32s, and Windows NT
Windows 3.1 supports OLE 1.0, so you may already have an idea of what OLE's about. OLE makes it possible to create documents that contain parts of other documents. For example, a word processor file might contain a section of a spreadsheet, an illustration from a draw program (for the company's logo, for example), and a photograph in the form of a bitmap. With OLE 1.0, you can combine these elements into a compound document and, by double-clicking on an OLE element, call the object's creator with the object loaded and ready to edit.
OLE 2.0, however, takes this one major step further. When you double-click on an OLE object, your host application becomes the creator.
Let's assume you have a graphic created with CorelDRAW! that's embedded inside a Word for Windows word processor document. If you double-click on the Corel graphic, Word for Windows becomes CorelDRAW!. The menu bar changes to Corel's menu bar, and Corel's tool palette pops onto your screen. You can edit the Corel graphic without thinking twice about it.
The second major new benefit of OLE 2.0 is that you can create compound documents by dragging objects from one application to another.
That's the rundown on the Windows family and one of the most interesting aspects of its common interface--OLE 2.0. Stay tuned to COMPUTE in 1993 for more details on these exciting Windows developments and for how-to help in making them useful and productive for you.