SystemSoft's CardWizard makes Windows NT friendly on the road

SystemSoft's CardWizard makes Windows NT friendly on the road

By John Breeden II

GCN Staff

The crash-prevention features that keep Microsoft Windows NT 4.0 up and running on desktop computers can hinder operation on notebook computers.

A notebook demands more flexibility than a desktop in terms of peripheral devices and drivers, yet NT is very rigid in what it allows to run.

Workgroups that have deployed NT on everything, including mobile systems, often encounter performance quirks in their quest for a homogeneous operating environment.

One solution is to migrate to Windows 2000, which behaves like NT on desktop systems and like Windows 98 on notebooks. But agencies are understandably cautious about Win 2000's security holes and other glitches that are still being discovered.

Box Score


Utility for PC Cards under Windows NT

SystemSoft Corp.; Natick, Mass.;

tel. 800-796-0088

Price: $79 GSA

+ Works unobtrusively with almost any PC Card

+ Makes cards hot-swappable

In the meantime, a bevy of utility programs can make NT work more like Win 2000 on notebooks. For example, CardWizard from SystemSoft Corp. nicely patches one of NT's big flaws: inability to work properly with PC Cards.

Once you install it and reboot, the CardWizard program becomes a seamless part of the operating system. Well, almost seamless.

Whenever you insert a PC Card, a small box with a wizard cartoon pops up, recognizing a new device.

The first time you insert a card, you might have to supply some driver disks. After that, removing or reinserting the same card will be hassle-free, even when the computer is on.

Not only does NT use the card devices properly, it even makes them hot-swappable, though a few cards will still make you stop their services before you can safely remove them.

I tested CardWizard with SCSI cards as well as PC Cards. Each time, once the proper drivers were installed, I could remove and reinsert the cards at will.

Bearing in mind the government's use of sensitive documents, I obtained a Fortezza card, which integrates the Type II PC Card military security standard, and tested CardWizard with it. The program treated Fortezza like any other card once the drivers were loaded.

With CardWizard running, a network card and a modem card both performed as well as or better than in a notebook running Win98.

SystemSoft maintains a list of certified-compatible cards and portable computers, but it's worth noting that half of my tests were on a notebook that is not listed as a supported product. It worked fine.

If you run NT 4.0 on a notebook and need to use any type of PC Card reliably, CardWizard will keep you up to speed.


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