For several years, Mac users have been able to work with Windows applications using emulators such as Connectix's Virtual PC or to connect to large Windows networks with Thursby Software's Dave. But the emulators tended to be too slow, and Dave was a bit too complex, especially for a SOHO environment. Now Connectix, Thursby Software, and Miramar Systems have software that should make cross-platform network connections downright simple.
File, printer sharing options
Connectix DoubleTalk, priced at $US99, is designed to let Mac users access a Windows network, swap files, and use Windows printers.
The program includes a wizard that steps you through the setup process. You tell it the domain and workgroup name, and it does the rest. After you log in to the network, you access shared files through the Mac's Chooser, as you would on an AppleTalk network, but instead of Apple's network protocol, it uses TCP/IP for data transfers.
Thursby Software's $US99 MacSOHO, which was released in late 2000, is a similar product, except you can do only file sharing, not printer sharing.
Macs for Windows users
But if you're a Windows machine in a sea of Macs, you might be better off with Thursby's $US149 TSStalk, which you load onto a PC. The software lets a Windows PC access a Mac network, including files and printers, via AppleTalk. After you set up TSStalk, you access the network just as you would a Windows network, through the Network Neighborhood. If you need a more robust entrance to a Mac network, Miramar Systems has started shipping the $US199 PC MacLAN for Windows 95, 98, and Millennium Edition. The latest version of this product adds IP networking and two-way printer sharing. See? We can all get along.
But what if you're a former Mac addict who was forced to migrate to a PC? You can get back your beloved Apple menu and Finder with Emulator's SoftMac 2000.
The program runs Mac OS 8.1 over Windows, so you don't just get the look of a Mac, you are actually running it (or a reasonable facsimile thereof). Of course, you'll be about four years out-of-date OS-wise (Apple currently ships Mac OS 9.1, with Mac OS X due in a few months). But you'll still be able to maintain your righteous indignation for those Windoze drones.