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Ensuring an easier migration to Windows.

If you're like many accountants, the decision to migrate to Windows was or--if you haven't done it yet--will be a difficult one. Aside from having to learn a new way of working and a host of new commands, you must get used to the many icons and the Windows tools--especially the File Manager, which some Windows users call the "File Mismanager." But, as many CPAs have concluded, the switch to Windows is inevitable--so you might as well get aboard, and the sooner, the better.

That doesn't mean you have to grin and bear it. There are ways to make the move easier and, once it's over, to make Windows more productive. On balance, however, most accountants who have taken the plunge agree that after a few weeks, learning Windows was well worth the effort.

As you probably have heard, Microsoft is about to introduce a new version of Windows. The program not only will replace Windows 3.1 but it also will eliminate DOS. Also, it's designed to handle networks on its own and, even better, is supposed to be able to format itself automatically when peripherals are added.

In the meantime, here are some suggestions to make the migration to Windows smoother and the program more productive.

OUT, OUT DAMN PROGRAM

When a Windows application program is installed, two groups of files that customize Windows so it works with the new programs--the INI (initiation) and DLL (dynamic link library) files--are changed automatically. But if you decide later to erase the program, the changes remain even after it is long gone. It's like spilling a good wine on a shirt: The stain remains, but you can't partake of the taste or aroma.

The unnecessary commands left behind sometimes are not benign. They can cause problems--from slowing Windows down to locking the computer. Removing those unnecessary commands manually is like removing lint from a dark blue suit with a pair of tweezers.

UnInstaller 2 does the job automatically. It searches for those meddlesome commands and erases them. The program also identifies applications and DLLs that aren't referenced in your Windows shell so you can clean them out, speeding up Windows. It's a must utility for clean Windows.

UnInstaller 2 costs $69.95. For more details, write to MicroHelp, Inc., 4359 Shallowford Industrial Parkway, Marietta, Georgia 30066, or call (800) 922-3383.

TRAINING MADE SIMPLE

If you're planning to switch to Windows, probably one of your biggest concerns is arranging for staff training, which could take at least a week. There is a way to cut down on training's cost and time. Lotus Development Corp. has introduced a program called ScreenCam that can be used as an instructional tool.

Here's how it works: An instructor loads ScreenCam and then demonstrates how a particular software function is performed. When entering the commands, the instructor explains each step, speaking into a microphone that's attached to the computer. Later, a disk with the "class" can be loaded onto any other computer and a student can follow the recorded lesson. Thus, a student has the advantage of seeing and hearing a description of the function being performed on the screen.

ScreenCam has other applications. It can be used to create a "live" memo--a response to a draft report (which could be in text, spreadsheet or database format)--that includes both editing and voice-over comments.

The ScreenCam software and a microphone are available as a package for $79. For more information, write to Lotus Development Corp., 400 River Park Drive, North Reading, Massachusetts 01864, or phone (800) 343-5414.

THE SHELL GAME

Unbeknownst to many Windows users, there's a viable replacement for Program Manager and many Windows utilities. EasyDesktop has a cornucopia of Windows enhancements. It runs as a shell, which means you can override Windows' collection of icons and replace them with a real menu (with 640 possible custom choices) that launches individual applications and even multiple groups of applications.

That's not all. When creating a customized menu, you can link documents, macros, passwords and even sounds (from a cow mooing to a baby crying) to each choice. You also can associate a sound to particular keystrokes. For example, one user who is a fast typist complained that he often hit the INS (insert) key accidentally. As a result, he typed over what he'd already written. With EasyDesktop he was able to link the sound of a baby crying to the INS key so when he pressed it, the sound warned him of the switch to the typeover mode.

Then there's file management. EasyDesktop does all the things File Manager does--plus it "zips" (compresses) and "unzips" (uncompresses) files inside Windows, splits large files into multiple diskettes and even allows the user to view the contents of files (both text and graphics) without opening them. As a fillip, when copying or moving files, EasyDesktop even remembers the last 10 file management orders, so all the user has to do is touch a mouse button to perform a series of actions.

Other features include an alarm (with customized sounds), a controller for an audio CD-ROM (for a little music while you work), a library of easily invoked special characters (from the British pound to a copyright symbol) and a security system for protecting different parts of your computer (files or applications) with passwords.

The nicest part of EasyDesktop is that it is so intuitive, you probably won't need the documentation.

EasyDesktop sells for $59.95 plus $5 shipping. For more details, write to the publisher, MicroSeconds International, Inc., P.O. Box 201, Rancho Santa Fe, California 92067, or call (800) 889-3279.
COPYRIGHT 1994 American Institute of CPA's
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1994, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Publication:Journal of Accountancy
Date:Sep 1, 1994
Words:931
Previous Article:Independence.
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