Classic Computer Magazine Archive COMPUTE! ISSUE 147 / DECEMBER 1992 / PAGE 114

Norton Desktop for Windows. (file-management and utilities software package) (Software Review) (Evaluation)
by Bob Guerra

Norton Desktop for Windows is a comprehensive file management and utilities package that greatly enhances and expands the capabilities of Windows.

NDW replaces Windows' Program Manager as the default shell and, upon installation, automatically converts all Program Manager groups to Quick Access groups. NDW then allows you to create new groups and add group items to them simply by dragging files from the directory tree to the newly created group window. Nested subgroups are also easily created under NDW, and group items can be dropped directly onto the desktop where they're available for easy access.

This system is quite flexible. It allows you to group applications and files into whatever configuration you feel most comfortable working with. Each group can be viewed in three ways--as a collection of labeled icons, as a vertical list of icons, and as a toolbox. In the toolbox view, group items are displayed as unlabeled icons neatly packed together to save space. Custom menus and dialog boxes can be added using NDW's Batch Builder and Macro Builder tools. On a smaller scale, NDW comes with a powerful icon editor that lets you create custom icons from scratch for your non-Windows applications. If you prefer, you can modify any of the 150 icons that are included with the program.

With NDW as your shell, you can launch applications simply by dropping one icon onto another. The first icon need not be related to the application you are launching. However, if you launch an application--a word processor, for example--by dropping an associated document onto it, the document will automatically be opened along with the word processor so you can begin editing that document right away. In addition, several types of files can be printed directly by dragging them onto any printer icon.

Text and system files such as autoexec.bat can be edited using NDW's powerful Desktop Editor. Although Desktop Editor won't substitute for a comprehensive word-processing package, it does offer several useful features, including the ability to edit multiple files at one time, a file comparison option that alerts you to differences between similar text files, global search across multiple files, the ability to create macros to automate repetitive editing tasks, and automatic saving of your documents at regular intervals (based on time or number of characters) that you specify.

If you just want to view the contents of a file without editing it or opening its associated application, you can use NDW's File Viewer. More than 45 file types from various popular applications are supported, including those created by Microsoft Word, WordPerfect, Lotus 1-2-3, Excel, Paradox, Quattro, and dBASE. CompuServe TIF and BMP graphic files, as well as ZIP, ZOO, and ARC compressed files, are also supported. Again, the file viewer can be activated simply by dropping onto it any file you wish to view.

If after viewing a file you decide you want to trash it, you can either drag its icon over to SmartErase or put it through the Shredder. Files deleted with SmartErase are easily recovered, while shredded files are gone for good. According to Symantec, Shredder meets Department of Defense security standards for data destruction.

Another of NDW's useful accessories is Sleeper, a screen saver that displays moving graphics to keep the screen image from burning itself into your monitor while you're away from the computer for extended periods. Sleeper comes with several animated images and even recognizes image files from Windows 3.1, Intermission, and After Dark.

With NDW's SuperFind, you can quickly scan your entire system for a specific file or all files matching a specific criterion, such as all ARC files. If what you're looking for is a special character to include in a text document, KeyFinder shows you at a glance the complete character sets of any fonts installed on your system. NDW also gives you instant access to 14 screens full of system information describing your CPU speed, hardware interrupts, memory allocation, graphics and printer setups, and a lot more.

To complete the package, Symantec throws in two first-rate utility packages--the complete Norton Backup and Norton AntiVirus. Backup makes quick work of the very necessary task of backing up your hard drive and can even perform automated backups when used in conjunction with Scheduler (another NDW goody that can be used simply as a reminder program or to perform specific computing tasks at regular intervals). Finally, Norton AntiVirus is included to monitor your system and to keep it free from data-damaging computer viruses.

Norton Desktop for Windows is, perhaps, the most complete file management and utilities package available for Windows. It's stuffed with nearly every tool and utility program you'll ever need to make the most efficient and productive use of your PC. NDW even comes with an uninstall program should you ever want to remove NDW from your system. I can't imagine that you will ever need it! IBM PC or compatible, 2MB RAM (3MB recommended); EGA, VGA, SVGA, or XGA; hard drive with 9MB free (for full installation); Windows 3.0 or higher; Microsoft or compatible mouse recommended--$179 (upgrade from version 1.0--$49) SYMANTEC 10201 Torre Ave. Cupertino, CA 95014 (800) 441-7234 Circle Reader Service Number 344