Mac-Disk Mounters

SAN FRANCISCO (04/19/2000) - The latest release of Microsoft Corp.'s ubiquitous PC operating system, Windows 2000 Professional, doesn't support many common drivers and consumer-oriented applications. That's bad news for PC users, who will find themselves doing some serious software upgrading if they make the switch to the new OS. The good news for Windows 2000 users who interact with Mac users is that two packages for cross-platform file exchange have been updated, and you really can't go wrong with either one.

DataViz Inc.'s MacOpener 2000 and Mediafour's MacDrive 2000 do what previous versions of these programs have always done: allow PCs running Windows 95, 98, NT 4.0, and 2000 Professional to handle Mac floppies, CDs, Zip disks, external drives, and pretty much any removable-media device connected via parallel, USB, FireWire, or SCSI port as if they were Windows media. With these programs, Mac files and disks become available on the Windows desktop and in Internet Explorer, as well as in PC programs' Open and Save dialog boxes, just like native PC files and disks. Both programs make sure that files transferred from one platform to another are represented by the correct icons-a QuarkXPress file transferred from Windows, for example, will have the XPress document icon when displayed in a Mac folder or on the desktop.

With MacDrive and MacOpener, you can also specify how Mac files are copied between Mac disks-in Mac-to-Mac mode or in Mac-to-NT mode-important if you use an NT server for Mac files. You can even format Mac media on your PC using these programs. (The Mac has had these capabilities for years, so it's easy to forget that your PC-using colleagues don't have the same ease of cross-platform sharing.)Minor DifferencesLike their predecessors, MacDrive 2000 and MacOpener 2000 are very similar products. But MacDrive offers a few additional features that higher-end users might like-for example, the ability to create a MacBinary file from any Mac disk (though not from PC disks, unfortunately) and to see information on Mac files' resources, such as creator and type. And MacDrive adds a red apple symbol to the folder window or disk icon so you know you're working with Mac media.

MacOpener 2000 offers the same basic features as version 4.0, the only real difference being Windows 2000 support. One nice (though not new) feature is the ability to control precisely when PC file-name extensions are added and deleted during Mac-to-Windows transfers. But MacOpener makes it difficult to add Mac file and creator types to its master extension-translation list (used to associate icons with files). MacDrive does a better job, letting you browse a file from a Mac disk and automatically detecting this information.

For most people, the features of these two competitors will be interchangeable.

If you're upgrading, though, you'll find significant differences. DataViz charges $30, plus a $7 handling fee, for the MacOpener 2000 CD (with no option to download the application), whereas MacDrive 2000 is available for $20 per download (it's not available on CD). That makes MacOpener's upgrade price nearly twice the competition's, for what is simply a compatibility upgrade. And Mediafour bundles Aladdin's DropStuff and Expander with MacDrive 2000, making the program an even better value.

Do You Need It?

You may wonder whether you should even bother to upgrade, given that the previous versions of both programs worked with Windows NT 4.0 and Windows 98, and most NT 4.0Ð and 98-compatible programs work in Windows 2000. The answer is a decided yes, at least in MacDrive's case. Running the old MacDrive 98 will make Windows 2000 see ghost disks it can't properly install, causing crashes.

Like NT, Windows 2000 handles such problems poorly-you may not be able to get Windows 2000 to run, even in Safe mode, when you go to delete the errant driver. The old MacOpener 4.0 is less dangerous: it won't cause Windows 2000 to crash, and with it you can even open Mac CDs (but not Mac Zip disks and some other Mac media).

Macworld's Buying Advice

Whether you choose MacOpener 2000 or MacDrive 2000, you'll get easy sharing of Mac media on your Windows 2000 PC. But we give the nod to MacDrive for its helpful apple identifier icon and significantly lower upgrade price.

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