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Making the leap

DataViz MacLinkPlus Deluxe 13 makes cross-platform file conversion a cinch. Software review hed: Making the leap dek: DataViz MacLinkPlus Deluxe 13 makes cross-platform file conversion a cinch.

I’ve always advised SOHOers to have a backup computer, even one that uses a different operating system. One of the problems Mac OS users have when working within Windows–other than having to make an attitude adjustment–is moving files back and forth between the two kinds of platforms. Apple makes the first part easy; all recent Mac OS computers read Windows floppy disks and removable media. What’s needed is software to translate files back and forth between these two systems. Along comes DataViz’s MacLinkPlus Deluxe, all dressed up in its Aqua finery, and completely compatible with Mac OS X and almost every flavor of Windows file.

MacLinkPlus Deluxe 13 is optimized for Mac OS X and supports the latest versions of Microsoft Word and Excel, found in Office 2001 Mac and Office XP. When working inside OS X, the utility has an Aqua look and feel to match the new Mac OS, and is easily accessed via the Dock. Computer users can also install this latest version on systems running Mac OS 8.1 or higher, although in this environment the interface is similar to previous versions-that is to say, somewhat staid, but reliable.

The program automatically launches when you drag and drop any file you wish to translate onto MacLinkPlus Deluxe’s icon. At that point, Macintosh users can open, view, and convert files from a variety of Windows and Macintosh applications, even if they don’t have the application that created the file. You can, for example, translate word processor documents to and from formats such as Ami Pro, FrameMaker, WriteNow, and others. MacLinkPlus also supports word processor document features such as character attributes (bold, italic, etc.); Document Attributes (margins, page setup); spreadsheet attributes (auto numbering); as well as footnotes, endnotes, and hard page breaks.

The interface has a useful More Info box that will often assist in the translation process. This can be extremely helpful when you receive a file created in an application you don’t have installed, download a compressed file from the Internet, or receive an e-mail attachment you can’t open. The program is so intuitive and easy to use that I never once had to look at the 20-page Getting Started booklet or use the Help menu.

The flip side of the cross-platform translation solution is DataViz’s MacOpener, which lets Windows users use Mac OS floppy disks, and CD-ROM discs, as well as removable media cartridges, such as Zip, Jaz, or Orb. The software does all this work transparently, without tossing any annoying error messages at you. It even lets you format Mac OS floppies on your Windows computer, something I often do because the older design Imation SuperDrive connected to my Power Macintosh G3 is so slow.

MacLinkPlus Deluxe costs $99.95, and for $39.95 you can upgrade from any previous version, including those that were free with Mac OS 7.5, 8, and 8.1. If you purchase the upgrade direct, you’ll receive a free copy of Aladdin Systems’ iClean.

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