8-Bit Software Online Conversion

       SUBMITTED BY 19F After reading Silas' comments in issue 31, I have decided to comment myself. As Silas, I have a 286 (12Mhz) and do not know much about Archimedes machines at all. One thing I would say though; according to Silas an A3010 only costs about as much as a 286 with 1Mbyte RAM, monitor, mouse, software bundle of DOS and Windows, and 40Mbyte hard drive does (About £250-£300) (A complete Archimedes system is more around £590, at which price it is about the same as a 386 system, which would be faster and maybe come with more memory as standard anyway) Operating Systems Having the OS on ROM like on a BBC is a good thing in a way as, the machine will obviously start up almost imediat- ely, as everything needed is already in memory really, this just needs to be initialised, and valuable RAM space is not used up.There are two main setbacks to this theory though - some of the operating system will have to be loaded into main memory anyway, thus using some of it up, and the other is one which Acorn can take big advantage of - ROMs can be charged more for, as they are hardware, not software, and so to upgrade the operating system will probably cost more for an Archimedes. Also, as it is a chip that needs to be replaced, the old one within the computer needs to be removed first, and to make sure that you don't invalidate your garuantee, the best thing to do if you are not sure exactly what you are doing, is to get a trained proffesional to do this process for you, which costs another few pounds, on top of the upgraded OS. Now this may seem fine to you, but with a PC, the upgraded versions of the OS cost less, as they are on disks, and are easily installed by following user friendly, on screen prompts. With the more easily installed operating system upgrades, the companies which produce them are happier to produce new versions, knowing that people will be happy to buy them. The Archimedes operating system has hardly been upgraded that much has it, whereas MS-DOS is now on version 6.2. Silas also complained about Windows multi tasking being unreliable. True, the computer did sometimes just hang for no reason, but then again, more up to date Windows operating systems are being produced regurlarly, which soon iron out any bugs in the system, until so far with the latest version, I have had no problems what so ever with the computer hanging up on me. Another great thing about Windows is that it is almost completely user friendly. The one main setback with it, as Silas mentioned is that it again takes up valuable memory, although this problem is also starting to be removed with the advent of huge memory capabilities. Many new machines are now being produced with up to at least 32 Mbyte expansion capabilities as standard (and I remember reading a couple of months ago that stand alone machines are now being produced with at least 128 Mbyte RAM, and as Windows only takes up about 40 Kbytes of this, there isn't that much of a problem really!) Speed Silas mentioned that the A3010 boots faster, but surely it is the speed with which programs run which is more the issue, and not knowing the speed of an Archimedes, I wouldn't know about this, although what I do know is that hard disks at least seem to halve the time a program takes to load compared to floppy disks. Sound There is nothing wrong whatsoever with the PC's internal speaker. It is possible to play many voices at once, and even play sampled sound. If you want to mess around with the sound though, it is advisable to buy a sound card (which aren't that expensive these days) the quality and amount of music and speech which can be used and heard is greatly improved, with many software packages being available which use the sound card, including almost all commercial, and quite a few shareware games. Graphics Silas said that you have to pay more for new graphics cards, but every single advert I have seen recently comes with SVGA as standard, and my 286 came with VGA as standard with anything below that (EGA/CGA) even being forgotten when the 286's were being produced. (DGS was rightly informed, about PC's having millions of colours, which have been made by mixing the 256 standard colours.) Mouse I don't know when Silas got his 286 without a mouse; almost all PC's have a mouse as standard (except laptops of course), and the only reason to use the middle button on a mouse is for some CAD packages which utilise it. Most applications only make use of two buttons whether you have three or not. TV Modulator There isn't much point in this, as you can pick up better resolution monitors for a cheaper price than TV's these days. They are available for anyone that wants them though. Software There is no software which comes within a PC. All is either on hard or floppy disks. It seems that new machines have DOS, Windows, and sometimes something else already installed at the factory on the hard disk within the computer. There does seem to be more software being produced for the PC than the Archimedes, definately from the games point of view. Top quality games seem to come out much more regularly on PC than on Archimedes formats, and so does good quality prize winning business software aswell. Shareware companies are especially putting out more and more top quality software with the game "Doom" recently getting higher ratings than almost all TOP quality commercial software on any system. Networks Yes, expansion cards are needed, but if you want a PC network, then buy a load of RM Nimbus PC's. They are ideal for networking, with 1 Mbyte Base memory, (I am informed (is this true?)) instead of the 640K IBM PC standard. Compatibility The Archimedes may have a PC emulator and be compatible with BBC's, but then again, in a recent Solinet issue, the way to copy BBC programs to the PC was shown, and also, the PC has its own better versions of nearly all Archimedes software, and so why bother! Hard drive The main reason for needing this is that software runs much faster, and is all easily accessible being in one place (instead of on floppy disks all over the place). Viruses The Archimedes may have less viruses, but they can all be just as deadly if they are programmed correctly, and so this is hardly a major factor in choosing between a PC and an Archimedes The best thing to do is just keep your beloved, faithful old BBC which has kept you going for the last few or many years, and will still keep you going for hopefully many years to come. Forget the competition of those big computers out there with 66Mhz speed and 128 Mbyte RAM, and carry on with something we all understand and use without too much difficulty really.... PRESS BREAK