In 1998 Star Division happened. You may have remembered the long and perpetual back-to-back beta tests of their office suites. Starting with version 3.0 we had the chance to download and try out the time-limited beta tests, but never did a purchasable product ever materialize for the English speaking market. In late '98, StarDivision released version 5 of their office suite. Final. Complete. Ready. And the big surprise was that it was free.
As in free beer, not free speech.
As a result, a huge number of OS/2 users flocked in to download StarOffice. The results were seen in more huge numbers on our vote tallies. Winning the Word Processor category in a close race behind Lotus WordPro is Star Division's StarWriter, a component of StarOffice. While StarWriter stands on its own as a highly capable word processor that ranks equal with big-boys such as WordPerfect and MS Word, StarWriter also benefits from the tight integration it has with the other StarOffice components.
1997 Winner: Lotus Word Pro
1996 Winner: DeScribe
But the Runner-Up this year is no slacker either. WordPro has evolved from roots in the form of Ami Pro, a word processor for Windows that was acquired by Lotus Development way back in the early 90's. Ami Pro for OS/2 was released, then came WordPro a few years later as Lotus joined the "Office Suite" movement of the mid 90's. Now it's one of the top word processors available for PC, on Windows or Warp.
1997 Runner-Up: DeScribe
1996 Runner-Up: Lotus WordPro
This was probably the closest race in this year's awards. As we tallied the votes we saw StarCalc take an early lead, then stand still for a while as Mesa 2 inched past. It looked as if 1-2-3 wasn't even going to make it as a Runner-Up for a while, as all the action took place between Mesa 2 and StarCalc. Then the tide turned. The release of StarDivision's office suite for free seemed to do the trick as far as numbers go, but it was time for the old GrandDaddy of spreadsheets to get its own back at last.
Near the end the votes were in favor of the long-time champion of spreadsheets since the 80s: Lotus 1-2-3. It came after an earlier program called VisiCalc, but while VisiCalc is now only remembered by historians and old timers, 1-2-3 is still being updated and sold today. The latest version for OS/2, available as part of Lotus Smartsuite for Warp 4, has both hints of its past hidden in the cracks (try typing the slash key to find the "Classic" menu structure) and modern improvements that have kept it relevant today.
1997 Winner: Mesa 2
1996 Winner: Mesa 2
Star Division's decision to release its office suite for free is still sending ripples through the OS/2 and Linux communities where good "meat and potatoes" applications are badly needed. It's also likely to have strong effects elsewhere as other small companies realize a new business model exists that could help them compete against entrenched competitors.
Star Division's StarCalc may not have the history and rooted depth of Lotus 1-2-3, but it's got Moxy. It features easy construction of formulas, support for reading Microsoft Excel 97 files and more.
1997 Runner-Up: Lotus 1-2-3
1996 Runner-Up: Star Division's StarCalc
Approach makes databases easy. That's the idea behind its design, which includes many SmartMasters to guide you through the design of a working database, not to mention working examples of common databases that you can empty the sample data from and use for your own business right away. The previous two winners of our Database category were IBM's DB2 - an industrial grade database that you'll find working behind the scenes of many high-trafficked web sites. But this year, it looks like ease of use and small-business settings were the deciding factor. For this, little beats Approach on the OS/2 platform.
1997 Winner: IBM DB2
1996 Winner: IBM DB2
StarOffice shows up again with it's database offering: StarBase. Like Approach, StarBase is geared towards small business and home use. You may even find yourself using it without realizing, since it's used behind the scenes to power the address book and scheduler too. "Autopilots" help you create tables, queries and reports, plus you can interactively build forms for entering and viewing data.
1997 Runner-Up: Lotus Approach
1996 Runner-Up: Sundial DBExpert
Personal Information Manager
Organizer visually resembles a leather-bound paper organizer that you might have once carried in your briefcase before you got a laptop. Pages turn, the trashcan burns unwanted records with a satisfying whoosh of flame, and everything is held together with the usual snap-open steel rings. Only thing is, you don't have to snap them open and shut yourself. Organizer is so loaded to the gills with gadgets and widgets and custom controls that it'll have you wishing you had a more active life - just so you could use them all.
1997 Winner: Lotus Organizer
1996 Winner: Relish
But while Organizer is very fancy looking, it eats RAM for breakfast, lunch and dinner too. Relish, on the other hand, doesn't. Relish is not only much better integrated with the Workplace Shell than Organizer is, it also nips along at a faster pace. Start typing anywhere, and Relish will instantly begin displaying records that begin with the letters you just typed. Or use a Relish Bun object to create a custom view of your schedule. Need desktop space back? Minimize Relish down to a small and unobtrusive mini-calendar that's still functional.
1997 Runner-Up: IBM Works
1996 Runner-Up: IBM Works
Financial / Accounting Software
This personal and business accounting system has been at the top of our readers' choice since the category was introduced. Some of the features that have made it such a hot choice are tracking of multiple books, multiple currencies, management of securities and insurance, and the ability to print checks and pay bills. Round it off with features like a calendar and other time related functions, and you've got a perfect finance solution.
1997 Winner: InCharge
Runner-Up: Electronic Teller
Beyond the basics of managing multiple portfolios and accounts, some of Electronic Teller's advanced functions include automatic tracking of bank service charges, tracking your credit card limits, Quicken import/export conversion, check printing and graph reports of your finances.
1997 Runner-Up: Money Tree
Until cable modems and ADSL take over the world, most of us still have to use dial-up connections to get onto the internet. It's a relief, then, that a program such as InJoy makes this not only an easy task, but also squeezes more speed out of the line than you thought possible. InJoy can automatically learn the steps necessary to log into your internet provider and begin a PPP session, plus it opens up many more options than IBM's Dial Other Providers program ever did - meaning better optimization and faster rates.
Some of InJoy's more advanced features are Dial-On-Demand, firewall support, IP masquerading (for connecting multiple computers to a single dial-up connection) and a news-ticker plugin.
1997 Winner: F/X InJoy
1996 Winner: EmTec's ZOC
Runner-Up: Zap 'O Comm (ZOC)
It's a terminal program. It's a Telnet program. It's an ISDN program. It's all three and more. This is ZOC, short for Zap 'O Com, EmTec's powerful and versatile communications application that can do anything from get you to your favorite dial-up BBS, vendor support BBS, Internet accessed role-playing arena or Telnet service. Zap O' Com has all of the features and terminal protocol emulation you need.
1997 Runner-Up: ZOC
1996 Runner-Up: HyperACCESS
Winner by a staggering majority is OS/2's best general-purpose graphics viewing and conversion utility. PMView can read practically every bitmap graphics format you'll ever come across, from the common to the dusty and obscure. PMView does slideshows, it does batch conversions, it does thumbnails and it even does filters like emboss.
Recent news about PMView is that version 2.0 is coming soon with lots of new features.
1997 Winner: PMView
1996 Winner: SPG ColorWorks
For our Graphics Runner-Up position there was a tie between GIMP/2 -- the port of the General Image Manipulation Program born on Linux -- and TrueSpectra's Photo>Graphics -- the advanced concept drawing and painting program. To break the tie we used the votes that came in after the January 10th cut-off date for Readers' Choice vote submissions. One vote for GIMP clinched it, and the free image processing and painting program won Runner-Up position.
But what is GIMP? In answer to the proprietary and expensive nature of Adobe's Photoshop, a small group of programmers got together and created a paint and image processing program that was free and had its source-code available. In development for several years now, it has grown to a sophisticated and advanced application. Being open-source, a couple of OS/2 programmers working in conjunction with OS/2 Netlabs ported it over to Warp. There's only one problem though, it doesn't yet come in a PM version. You have to install XFree86 for OS/2 or some other X Windows server to run it. Despite this requirement, GIMP is still an exciting new addition to OS/2's graphics repartee.
1997 Runner-Up: TrueSpectra's Photo>Graphics
1996 Runner-Up: PMView
Winner: Back Again/2
BackAgain/2 comes in three editions, Enterprise, Professional and Personal, offering a decent package for everyone's backup needs; as your organization grows, it does as well. Fully multithreaded and integrated with the WPS, it makes backups a snap, even without a tape drive since it allows backups to hard disks, floppy disks and even removable media such as Zip Drives. Including enhanced network support and disaster recovery tools, it's also ideal for network administrators.
1997 Winner: BackAgain/2
BackMaster is the Runner-Up in this category, but is by no means very far behind. Like BA/2, BackMaster has a GUI interface (and a text-based disaster recovery program), and supports a slew of drives and backup devices. It also includes enhanced data compression for tape drives and multi-drive backups and filtering features to allow for backup of only certain types of files. All these features tie in to give quite a respectable program.
1997 Runner-Up: BackMaster
|Copyright © 1999 - Falcon Networking||ISSN 1203-5696||January 16, 1999|