Top ten new Windows apps. (Buyers Guide)
by Clifton Karnes
COMDEX/Fall, the most exciting computer show on earth, was held this past October in Las Vegas, Nevada. This year, there were more than 1500 exhibitors, and Windows applications were everywhere. Here's a look at the ten best new Windows products I saw at COMDEX.
For productivity, the big news was Microsoft Word for Windows 2.0 ($495). It's been more than a year since Win-Word had an upgrade, and 2.0 is well worth the wait. New features include a redesigned ribbon and ruler, with a customizable toolbar. Grammar checking is now available on board as is a graph editor. For desktop publishing, the program sports a draw program, and layout can now be frame based, which means you can move text and graphic elements around on the page by dragging and dropping them.
The second biggest COMDEX productivity package also comes from Microsoft--Microsoft Works for Windows ($149.95). This program is like the DOS version of Works, except for the fact that the telecommunications module has been dropped and a draw program has been added. Works looks great under Windows. For a home office, this integrated combination of a word processor, spreadsheet, database, and draw program may be just the ticket.
Although Microsoft has released its own Windows-based money-management tool, the biggest news at COMDEX in this popular category was Intuit's Quicken for Windows ($69.95). This product has everything found in version 5.0 of Quicken for DOS, except for loan amortization, and the interface is excellent.
Desktop publishers will be excited about Bitstream's new type design tool, Makeup ($149.00). With Makeup, you can stretch and bend type to create almost any effect you want. And Makeup works with PostScript Type 1 (the fonts used with ATM), TrueType (which will be bundled with Windows 3.1), and Bitstream's own Speedo fonts.
DTPers will also be delighted with Micrografx Windows Draw, a beautifully designed draw program that lists for just $149.95. It has about 95 percent of Micrografx Designer's power at a fraction of its $795.00 price.
For entry-level DTP, the most interesting new Windows program was Microsoft Publisher ($149). The program has everything you need to get going with page design and layout, including boatload of onboard fonts.
For desktop publishing professionals, there's LaserMaster's WinPrinter ($1,995). This is a 400 x 400 dpi PostScript-compatible printer designed especially for the Windows environment, its output is beautiful, and it's fast.
Windows utilities at COMDEX were led by Diagsoft QAPlus/Win ($159.95), a tremendously powerful diagnostic tool for the Windows environment. If you've heard of Check-It, the popular DOS diagnostic utility, you may be interested to learn that the QA people also wrote that. But this is more than just Check-It for Windows. It offers powerful features you're not likely to find in any other diagnostic program.
Although not strictly a Windows product, Stacker AT/16 ($249) is almost a must for every Windows user. It's a software or software-and-hardware combination that can double the size of your hard disk. As most of us are painfully aware, Windows programs eat up hard disk real estate like nobody's business--as a case in point. Word for Windows 2.0 gobbles up a breathtaking 15MB. Stacker AT/16 can make living with Windows much easier.
In the last year, Windows programmers have been treated to a raft of programs that make it easy to create Windows apps. The earliest group to appear were HyperCard-like products--Asymetrix ToolBook and Spinnaker's Plus. Then came what are now being called visual programs--Visual Basic and Realizer are the two best examples. The problem is that up until now there haven't been any programs that make traditional C-and-SDK-style development easier. Well, now there's Microsoft QuickC for Windows ($199). To program with this tool, you'll have to know C, and you'll have to learn the Windows API, but you'll have an integrated environment that's hard to beat.
Also included in the package is QuickCASE:W, a special version of CASE:W that makes it possible to create interfaces by drawing them, Visual Basic style. Make no mistake, this one's a winner.