The Microsoft Corporation of Redmond, Wash., last week released a software product it says will give ibm personal computers, and the vast array of “pc clones,” the same ease of use as the Apple Macintosh.
But opinion was still out on what, if any, impact the long-awaited innovation will have on the school market, with one expert predicting that software publishers would ultimately make that determination.
Versions of the new product--"Windows 3.0"--have been available since 1983. But Microsoft’s announcement received national attention in mainstream as well as specialized media because of its claim that the product can make a wide range of hardware more “user friendly.”
Developers said the computer software’s “graphical user interface,” which allows users to choose symbols, rather than complex codes to operate the machine, could lure customers away from the costly Macintosh.
However, spokesmen for both the International Business Machines Corporation and Apple Computer Inc. declined last week to speculate on whether “Windows” would markedly change educational computing.
Apple spokesmen said schools would be unlikely to switch to ibm products when similar, if less powerful programs, already exist for the Apple II, the mainstay of the educational-computing market.
The future of Windows as an educational product, said James Mecklenburger, executive director of the National School Boards Association’s Institute for the Transfer of Technology to Education, depends not on the hardware producers, but on software developers.
“Windows has been around since 1983 and to the best of my knowledge, schools haven’t been running out and buying it,” he said. “At this moment, as far as I know, no one has designed software for schools for Windows.”
But if educational-software publishers begin to embrace the new product as an alternative to the pricier Macintosh, he added, “then it has the potential to change the balance of power between Apple and i.b.m.”
Apple, which has been losing some of its huge market share in education to ibm, announced drastic discounting on the Macintosh for educators this month.--pw
A version of this article appeared in the May 30, 1990 edition of Education Week as ‘Windows’ Software for I.B.M. Computers Released