Classic Computer Magazine Archive COMPUTE! ISSUE 125 / JANUARY 1991 / PAGE 18

Technical. (1991 Compute Choice Awards) (evaluation)


Windows 3.0

With the release of 3.0, Microsoft has finally delivered on Windows' potential. The latest version of this operating environment is a full-featured graphical user interface complete with sculpted 3-D buttons, full-color icons, and masterful multitasking. Microsoft used graphic artists to design 3.0's interface, and it shows. The well-chosen colors and dithering support create varied and subtle shades.

Windows' improvements start with installation. Now a single version of the program supports 8086, 80286, and 80386 PCs; and the setup process is streamlined and simple. Although Windows will run on an 8088-/8086-based machine, you really need a 286 or 386 to tap the program's power. With an 80286 and at least one megabyte of memory, Windows can multitask Windows applications and run almost any DOS program. With an 80386 and at least two megabytes, Windows can multitask Windows and DOS applications, and it can even run DOS programs in resizable windows.

Windows 3.0 wins the COMPUTE Choice Award for best operating environment because of its superb interface, powerful features, and excellent support for multitasking. An afternoon with this program will convince you that Windows is the PC's future.



Imagine being able to switch among your word processor, spreadsheet, database, and a game by simply pressing a key. That's the magic of Switch-It, an amazing TSR that uses just 27K of RAM.

Unlike most context-switching programs, Switch-It is a breeze to install and a pleasure to use. At setup, Switch-It searches your hard disk for applications with which it's familiar and automatically installs them. To install other programs, you simply use Switch-It's fill-in-the-blanks setup screens. After your programs have been installed, press Switch-It's hot key, and you'll see a menu listing your programs. You can select programs by using the cursor keys or by pressing the first letter of the program's name.

If stopping off at the menu slows you down too much, Switch-It also lets you assign a hot key for each application so you can move to it instantly. As icing on the cake, Switch-It lets you cut and paste between applications and recall recent commands from any DOS prompt.

Switch-It can breathe new life into PCs and ATs and offer them much of the power of multitasking environments like DESQview and Windows. And that makes it a sure winner.


The Complete Communicator

Economy of space, finance, and function are crucial to a successful home office. The Complete Communicator (TCC) addresses all three areas. Combining telecommunications, voice mail, and fax capability on a single board, TCC turns one expansion slot into a total office communications center.

It's an easy center to operate. TCC's software lets you run communications in either foreground or background, taking advantage of various memory configurations and hardware setups. A 2400-baud modem gives you access to online services and computer-to-computer communication. Voice-mail capabilities include multiple mailboxes, time-and-date stamping of messages, and remote message retrievaral. Fax capabilities include 9600-baud transmission, multiple fax transmissions with custom cover sheets, and timed transmission to take advantage of off-peak rates.

This multiplicity of function in a single product exemplifies the sort of value home office workers appreciate. The complete home office needs more products like The Complete Communicator.



With the introduction of the PS/1, IBM gave home computing its biggest push in years. Big Blue told the world that computers belonged in the home and put in place a strategy to get them there.

Aggressively marketed through major retailers, the PS/1 is designed to satisfy fundamental home computing needs. The machine comes complete in a single box and can be set up by a novice in less than an hour. An easy-to-use interface helps relax those new to computers, while the inclusion of a 2400-baud modem should make telecommunications available to a larger audience than ever before. Technical support itself is delivered via the modem.

The PS/1's 10-MHz 286 processor may not represent the cutting edge of CPU technology, but it's powerful enough to run all but the largest MS-DOS programs. The chip also matches Bill Gates's criteria for entry-level multimedia machines; while IBM has announced no multimedia enhancements for the PS/1, few industry watchers doubt that such announcements will be forthcoming.

It's the seriousness with which IBM and its retail partners have approached the growing home market that earns the PS/1 a COMPUTE Choice Award. Computers--and IBM--are coming home again--this time to stay.


Microsoft BASIC 7.1

BASIC used to be the Rodney Dangerfield of programming languages--it didn't get any respect. But Microsoft has changed that by developing and consistently improving QuickBASIC and, most recently, by releasing Microsoft BASIC 7.1, a BASIC intended for professional programmers and serious enthusiasts.

BASIC 7.1 has everything you could want in a top-end programming language. Professional tools are on a par with or better than those Microsoft offers C, Assembler, and Pascal programmers. To hit just a few of the high spots, 7.1 comes with Programmer's Workbench, an application development environment that combines the best of QuickBASIC, Microsoft's M editor, and a project manager; the latest version of Microsoft's Code View Debugger, with support for extended memory; a full-blown ISAM library for heavy-duty database applications; and complete OS/2 support.

In addition to an exceptional development environment, BASIC 7.1 provides many improved compilation tools. Now you can selectively include or exclude object libraries, and the compiler. is fully optimizing. The improvements in both size and speed make the code produced by this compiler as lean and mean as that created with almost any other product. BASIC is back, and Microsoft BASIC 7.1 is a landmark product that will garner the respect this excellent language deserves.