By Alan Stafford
Macs and PCs, working together in harmony under the same roof. Some view this as an unholy union. For those who don't, new software from Miramar Systems lets computers from both platforms share disks, files, and printers over a network.
PC MacLAN 7.2.1 has versions that run on either Windows 95/98/Me or on NT/2000 systems. Either allows a PC to see Macs on a LAN or WAN, and enables your Macs to see the PC. Microsoft's and Apple's respective server software applications support connectivity by both platforms, but PC MacLAN provides peer-to-peer networking for small offices that don't use a server. My $199 shipping copy of version 7.2.1 adds the ability to connect over Internet Protocol (rather than just over the slower AppleTalk), as well as support for printing to non-PostScript printers.
After a simple installation routine on your PC, the software is mostly transparent. You can access Macs via Network Neighborhood, just as if they were Windows-based PCs; Macs can access the PC via their Chooser. The software comes preconfigured to ensure that files created on a Mac open with the proper application on a PC (Macs don't require file-name extensions--they hide the information within the file). I encountered no problems sharing platform-agnostic files, such as HTML pages, images, and Microsoft Office documents.
Printing to PostScript printers, which use a cross-platform language of their own, should pose no difficulty, but Macs must use the generic LaserWriter PostScript driver to print to non-PostScript printers, so you can't get printer-specific functions such as the superhigh resolutions some ink jets now offer.
Still, PC MacLAN is great to have in integrated offices. Share it with a Mac you love.
PC MacLAN 7.2.1
PRO: Transparent networking using both Macs and PCs.
CON: Some Mac printing limitations.
VALUE: A very useful program for cross-platform offices.
Street price: $199
From the June 2001 issue of PC World magazine