Novell misses the mark with latest software package

by James M> Hunnicutt | 11/8/95 6:00am

Boasting "Incredible $aving$," Student Essentials for Macintosh is a computer compact disk set containing seven programs that any college student will find useful. However, the disk really is not worth the discount price of $135 if the buyer happens to be a Dartmouth student who has already purchased a Macintosh package from the College.

Student Essentials contains Bitstream Fonts, Bookends, Compton's Encyclopedia 1995, Envoy Viewer, Netscape, Student Assist, Webster's Dictionary and WordPerfect 3.5.

This myriad of programs fits on a pair of compact disks and can only be used on Macintosh computers with CD-ROM capabilities.

Buyers can install almost all of the programs onto their hard drives, except for the encyclopedia which must be accessed directly from one of the disks. Anyone who already has a CD-ROM computer probably already owns these programs or their equivalents.

Netscape is arguably the best net-surfing program available and is probably the best part of this deal. Netscape is a fast way to access documents and images from the Internet, and also lets users type out information on some pages.

But for a Dartmouth student who probably already has a copy of Netscape, the 100 Bitstream Fonts are the most useful component of the package. The fonts work for Microsoft Word, WordPerfect and presumably other Macintosh word processors.

WordPerfect is a great word processor, and this version includes the added benefit of modules for French, German and Spanish. Upperclassmen still using Word might want to explore WordPerfect, which this year replaced Word as the word processor purchased by incoming freshmen.

The rest of the programs are pretty useless, especially to a Dartmouth student.

Bookends is a program made to catalog library entries, but does not include any pre-made databases. Buyers are expected to type in the call numbers of books they wish to remember or buy upgrades supplying such information. DCIS and the College's online library catalogs make this program superfluous.

DCIS also connects students to Encyclopedia Brittanica, which is superior to Compton's. Not only is Encyclopedia Brittanica regularly updated, but also it has better text entries than Compton's. Compton's does have several graphic images and soundbites, but nothing that compares with Microsoft Encarta.

The dictionary is no more useful than any of the other ones available on disks or off of DCIS. Student Assist is a day-planner and organizer which may be useful, but is not any better than other such programs or old-fashioned booklets.

Envoy is an intriguing publishing program that can readily interface with other word processing or layout programs. Useful in producing pages on the World Wide Web, Envoy would appeal to those interested enough to spend the time trying to figure it out.

Although the disks come with automatic installation programs, they lack enough instructions and do not install the programs with perfect ease. Some technical difficulties may arise and buyers should expect to spend at least a half hour just getting everything running.

WordPerfect and Envoy are produced by Novell Inc., based in Orem, Utah. Bitsream, Inc. is based in Cambridge, Mass. and Rae Technology, which puts out Student Assist, has its headquarters in Cupertino, Calif. Bookends is version 3.1.1 and is based in Corte Madera, Calif.