Monday, July 29, 1996
Contact: Alexander Antoniades
Canton MI -- August 24 is going to take on new meaning to OS/2 users. August 24 is the official release date of Object Desktop Professional, Stardock's new flagship product.
"We look at Object Desktop Professional as a kind of 'independence day' for OS/2 users," said Brad Wardell, President, Stardock Systems, Inc. "That's because now OS/2 users will be able to take a giant step forward in saving time, saving money, and improving productivity by greatly enhancing their office environments with Object Desktop Professional."
Object Desktop Professional provides all of the features of the best-selling Object Desktop (http://www.stardock.com/object_desktop.html) product, including Object Navigator, Object Archives, Tab LaunchPad, Control Center and Object Package, plus:
Object Viewer provides the ability to read, print, and work with files from virtually any file format including the recently released Office95 (Excel95, Word95, Access95, PowerPoint95, etc.). With Object Desktop Professional installed, users can simply double click on a file and the Object Viewer feature quickly identifies the document and views it in a fraction of a second. End users do not have to know what type of file is being viewed; view operations are completely transparent.
"I received some spreadsheet documents from a client that I had to import into documentation I was creating, and none of my applications could import the files. Even my customer had no idea what format the spreadsheets were in," said Patty Dulman, Independent Technical Writer. "The Object Viewer feature allowed me to open these files, and copy and paste them to my documentation through the clipboard support. I couldn't have satisfied my customer without it."
Object Viewer's seamless file support also allows users to drag and drop files onto their local or network printer objects to automatically print in the proper format. Without the Object Viewer feature, the Workplace Shell allows only a few types of files to be dragged onto printer objects for proper print formatting. With Object Viewer, files can be dragged to the printer for seamless, fully formatted printing support. IS Managers can significantly reduce training and support costs with this feature alone.
Object Viewing goes far beyond just viewing files. Object Desktop Professional has a presentation mode that allows users to give presentation slideshows with the file in question. For example, a user could give a Lotus Freelance or Microsoft PowerPoint presentation without having either product installed by clicking on the file and selecting "Presentation Mode" in the viewer window. Moreover, Object Viewers also work seamlessly with HTML files allowing users to copy and paste from .HTM files to their word processor, graphics program, etc. and keep all the formatting intact.
"Here at Stardock, we've been producing marketing materials with WEB authoring tools and then copying and pasting from the HTML file into a word processor such as Ami Pro, Word, or Describe. All the formatting is preserved and we only have to write the material once." said Eric Reid, Technical Writer, Stardock Systems, Inc.
Object Viewer doesn't stop at reading common file formats--it even reads executables and other binary files and displays detailed information on the binaries such as a description, the name of the module, memory required, linker version, and pages of other details.
To help users identify their files, Object Desktop Professional can optionally assign special icons to their files (different icons for documents, spreadsheets, presentations, databases, etc.).
Object Viewing is also integrated into Object Navigator, Stardock's premiere file/object manager for OS/2. A view pane can optionally be displayed inside the Object Navigator, providing integration between file browsing and views of files. Virtually any file can be displayed in the Object Navigator view pane--If Object Viewer recognizes the file, it is displayed it in its proper format.
"On top of all this, Object Viewer has very impressive performance." said Wardell. "Jumping from file to file from the Object Navigator works about as fast as you can move the mouse and click on a new file."
Object Desktop Professional provides desktop security (Object Security) features that allow end users and IS Managers to password protect the desktop, program objects (such as the command line) and folders.
"Both organizations and end users have use for a certain level of security. I know that virtually every company I've visited has their own horror stories of carefully crafted desktop objects being deleted that shouldn't have been, or IS Managers who have users that get into things they shouldn't and cause all sorts of pain for themselves and others. Our corporate customers directly determined the feature set for Object Security." said Wardell
Besides providing password protection on folders and objects, Object Security can also lock files in place on the desktop, providing a desktop system that is just as flexible but tamper-proof. For organizations who have users that move from PC to PC, having a standardized set of features visible on the desktop is critical--and Object Security facillitates these types of standardization efforts.
Desktop Backup Advisor.
One of the more anticipated features of Object Desktop Professional is the Desktop Backup Advisor which can perform two important functions.
First, It allows users to quickly and easily manage, backup, and restore desktop configuration "snapshots." The Desktop Backup Advisor employs a "wizard-like" user interface, and is very easy to work with. Users and IS Managers can easily package and distribute desktops across the enterprise using the Desktop Backup Advisor, which uses Stardock's advanced Object Packaging technology. Organizations looking to deploy a standard desktop will find the Desktop Backup Advisor an essential tool to this end.
"One test site has used the Desktop Backup Advisor to deploy a standardized desktop with three variations -- one for technical users, one for their end users, and one for managers. When a new machine goes on the network, they open the Desktop Backup Advisor, choose the desktop they want and it unpackages it." said Wardell
Secondly, the Desktop Backup Advisor completely repairs OS/2 INI files. The most common cause of system instability and performance loss in OS/2 are damaged INI files (os2.ini, os2sys.ini). Over time, OS/2 INI files collect a great deal of unused or dormant data that can slow OS/2 down and cause various undesired behavior. While INI repair programs go far to help the situation, there is no replacement to being able to totally cleanse the INI files without losing user customizations. By simply saving and restoring a desktop configuration with the Desktop Backup Advisor, OS/2's INI files are renewed without disturbing critical data. The net result is a system that behaves like a freshly installed OS/2 system without losing any critical customization.
"The Desktop Backup Advisor goes beyond simple backup and restore for desktop snapshots. The very fact that when you use the tool OS/2 INI files are cleaned up almost sounds too good to be true." said Pat Ford, Senior Technical Advisor at Stardock Systems. "I have seen 486 systems that crawled and had strange errors pop up on a daily basis receive a big performance and stability boost by simply using the Desktop Backup Advisor. It's a lot easier than reinstalling OS/2 from scratch and a lot cheaper than buying a new machine."
Object Inspector allows OS/2 users to exert greater control over object properties, as well as browse and edit the system registry of Workplace Shell classes. Like Object Package from Object Desktop, Object Inspector can turn objects into a more manageable form such as REXX or RC scripts.
The ability to edit the system Workplace Shell registry is critical to understanding system performance. Unlike traditional programs, Workplace Shell objects are handled through a registry of dyanamically loaded code, and are commonly ignored when tuning systems. Many IS Managers and professionals routinely edit their CONFIG.SYS file to remove device drivers that are no longer needed; however, Workplace Shell classes are increasingly the place where system memory is robbed from a system. With Object Inspector, experienced users can uninstall the modules they do not use and save a great deal of RAM.
Creating scripts by dragging and dropping objects onto the Object Inspector is of obvious use for developers and IS Managers who administer OS/2 Desktops with REXX, saving a lot of time and effort. A whole new world of performance tuning and customization is opened up with Object Inspector.
"One example use of Object Inspector is to expand the capabilities of our own Control Center provided with Object Desktop," said Stardock Systems Object Desktop Product Manager, Kurt Westerfeld. "It is little known that the CPU graph can be displayed as a line graph instead of an area graph because we chose not to implement the user interface to change the setting. With Object Inspector, however, numerous settings for desktop objects are visible and can be easily modified."
Following the general trend of leveraging internet technology on the desktop, Stardock Systems is leading the industry by tying interactive, internet-based help with desktop objects. Object Advisor is intended to allow organizations to blend online help resources with desktop objects, coupled with the ability to link to internal networks (Intranet) for help desk reporting and centralized data access. By loading the Object Advisor Trainer, users can be trained by simply using the Workplace Shell. Help is as simple as clicking an object on the desktop.
"Imagine you're running the help desk at your company and instead of receiving panicked phone calls when the printer is having problems, e-mail arrives transparently from end users when problems arise. Users simply click on the printer object on their desktop and interact with Object Advisor. After they fill out a problem report form and press the "Send" button, the help desk manager receives e-mail from the user." said Wardell.
Because Object Advisor definitions are provided with industry standard HyperText Markup Language (HTML), a wide variety of authoring tools are available. Virtually anything that can be represented as a World Wide Web page (JAVA, forms, graphics, links, etc.) can be presented in an Object Advisor definition. Whether used as a training tool for internal custom applications or as an easy way to obtain updates to commercial software off the internet, Object Advisor has boundless implications.
On top of all the other features included in Object Desktop Professional, Stardock has also included a full blown system backup called Object Backup. Object Backup can back up systems and network resources to floppy/removeable media, ATAPI/IDE tape drives, network drives and ZIP drives. From a single point, an administrator using Object Backup can backup the entire network to tape. Object Backup's native media format is even compatible with the popular Back Again/2 backup product from CDS.
"We'd put Object Backup up against any stand alone backup package on any platform." said Wardell. "It's powerful, fast, easy to use, and extremely reliable. And unlike many stand alone packages these days, we still support backing up to floppy which can be a real convenience during crunch time."
To help automate tasks, Object Desktop Professional has Object Scheduler, a special Workplace Shell folder that allows users to drag and drop programs and/or scripts and assign a time to execute. Users who want to perform a system backup, a virus scan, a defragmentation or any other time consuming task can do so with Object Scheduler during off-hours. Object Scheduler will automatically and reliably perform the task at the specified time.
Stardock Systems provides all the features of Object Desktop Professional with a completely customizable install process that allows customers to pick and choose which features best matches their needs. Using the remote administration capabilities of IBM Netview and OS/2 Warp Server, Object Desktop Professional can be easily deployed on an organization's desktops automatically. Stardock has priced Object Desktop Professional at an extremely attractive price for business professionals and corporate users: $179.00 US.
"With so many features, we expect Object Desktop Professional to sell in volume so we can afford to aggressively price it. Besides, given the immense number of features in the product, we don't want our customers to feel like they are paying for features they'll never use," said Wardell.
With an under $200 price tag, as long as a fraction of the features are used, users will have spent wisely and won't feel they are paying for unused features.
Object Desktop set the standard for advanced desktop environments and is pre-loaded on the majority of OS/2 systems worldwide making it the most popular OS/2 enhancement product available. Object Desktop's ability to create standardized desktops across multiple versions of OS/2 (2.11, OS/2 Warp, and the upcoming "Merlin") has made it a tremendous value for end users of OS/2 as well corporations. Stardock expects that most of its end users will stick with Object Desktop because of its price point ($89.95), while corporate and professional (power) users will move to Object Desktop Professional.
Object Desktop Professional will be officially released on August 24, 1996. Significant site license discounts are available. Object Desktop Professional will be sold at select OS/2 resellers or directly from Stardock . Special upgrade pricing is available for Object Desktop 1.0 and 1.5 users. Most OS/2 resellers are currently running special pre-order pricing on Object Desktop Professional.
Stardock can be reached by voice at (734) 762-0687, fax at (734) 762-0690, e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, and the World Wide Web at http://www.stardock.com. Orders will be taken at 734-762-0687.
Object Desktop Professional
Part No. 12296PR
Object Desktop 1.5 to Professional $69.95 until Fall
Object Desktop 1.0 to Professional $119
Object Desktop and Object Desktop Professional are trademarks
of Stardock Systems, Inc.
OS/2, OS/2 Warp, OS/2 Warp Server and Netview are trademarks of
IBM Corp. All other trademarks are held by their respective owners.
Part No. 12296PR
Object Desktop 1.5 to Professional $69.95 until Fall
Object Desktop 1.0 to Professional $119
Object Desktop and Object Desktop Professional are trademarks of Stardock Systems, Inc.
OS/2, OS/2 Warp, OS/2 Warp Server and Netview are trademarks of IBM Corp. All other trademarks are held by their respective owners.