Windows May Soon Be A Lot Clearer

Microsoft Corp.'s Windows has swept the IBM-compatible PC market, but it's still difficult for many people to use. In particular, Windows relies heavily on the somewhat arcane file-naming conventions and complex structure of Microsoft's MS-DOS operating system. Now, Compaq Computer Corp. will try to fix that shortfall with new software it hopes will make personal computers attractive to a broader audience.

Compaq's new program, licensed from XSoft, the software arm of Xerox Corp., is called TabWorks. It organizes Windows' graphical icons into groups that relate to a user's projects--monthly budget report, expense report, and sales analysis, for instance. Each group is portrayed as a page in a notebook. Click on a page's colored tab with your mouse and it comes to the top of the stack. But instead of only representing a program, as Windows icons do, TabWorks icons can call into action a program and a specific data file for it to work on. In short, that means there is less need to scan MS-DOS's directories for files whose names you can't remember. Compaq will sell TabWorks for $49 and plans eventually to pre-install it on all its computers.