Windows 95 is now available on the Macintosh with Insignia Solutions' SoftWindows 95. The emulation software will enable Power Macintosh systems to run the Windows 95 OS and Windows applications as if they were on an Intel 486 processor, according to the manufacturer.
It has advanced features within Windows 95 that aren't available or supported within the Macintosh OS, such as multitasking and multithreading support, said Leigh Dworkin, product line manager for Insignia's Macintosh products. "It runs in a self-contained environment, so that features like multitasking or multithreading are enabled, because we don't use any of the Macintosh software for those features," Dworkin said.
However, if the applications need to leave the Windows 95 environment to access the Macintosh's hardware, then the OS's capability to do pre-emptive multitasking would be impacted, Dworkin conceded.
Another advantage to using the Windows 95 software on the Macintosh is greater cross-platform compatibility. With Microsoft no longer making sure that Macintosh and Windows versions of its applications are upgraded at the same time, Macintosh users who need access to files from the latest version of Excel created on a PC might need Windows emulation to be able to read the formatting, Dworkin said.
"Microsoft has said it wouldn't be adding the latest features it's added to the PC versions of its applications to the Mac versions until the next major upgrade," Dworkin added.
That might be the most compelling reason for buying the emulation software, suggested David Card, an analyst with IDC. "Sales of this software have not really been very impressive," Card said. "We don't have many hard numbers, but the penetration rate is less than 10 per cent, and it might even be less than 5 per cent."
But with Microsoft slowing down its release of upgrades for its Macintosh applications, users might have a solid reason for adding SoftWindows 95, he added. "Microsoft has not released Office 95 for the Macintosh, and they might not make Office 97 available either," Card said.
In addition to quicker access to new features within Microsoft applications, Insignia is offering greater compatibility between its Windows emulation and the Macintosh environment with both SoftWindows 95 and a new version of the Windows 3.x version, SoftWindows 3.0. Both emulation packages will now support Apple's Open Transport Protocol for improved network connectivity, along with built-in support for Apple's SCSI interface.
The SCSI support includes an Adaptec SCSI peripheral interface driver that gives SoftWindows users the ability to use SCSI-based Macintosh peripherals from within the Windows environment. For example, users can scan in images directly to their Windows applications, Dworkin said.
Insignia has also added a software-based MIDI driver compatible with Creative Labs' Sound Blaster for sound support, and can now access any printer supported within Apple's Mac Chooser environment.
A new feature only available with SoftWindows 95 is the TurboStart feature, the company said. Instead of closing SoftWindows 95, Insignia puts it into sleep mode, making the start-up process much faster than it is on standard PCs, Dworkin said. SoftWindows 95 is available now and has an RRP of $645 for a single user, and the education version is $499 per user.
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