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Innovations give Apple new edge;Shop Window;Computers

Despite its most turbulent of years, Apple is still doing what it does best: producing innovative, easy-to-use software and elegant, cutting-edge hardware.

System 8 has become the most popular and lucrative system software in Apple's history, bringing "spring loaded" folders to a more stable and reliable platform, while the sheer speed of its new G3 Power Mac range has also turned heads.

In education, the eMate is a great success which incorporates spreadsheet, drawing, graphic and word-processing tools. And Apple is still a significant player. The latest DfEE figures show that Apple has 5 per cent of the primary school and 8 per cent of the secondary school markets.

Ease of use has always been crucial to Apple's success, but there are other important factors. Apple machines can read PC disks, meaning data can readily be transferred from a student's home PC to the school Mac. Apple software is generally backwards compatible so that older machines can be loaded with newer software (though System 8 is written for PowerPC machines only).

And let's not forget some excellent software. The big design and desktop publishing packages - Photoshop, Illustrator, QuarkXpress - were originally written for the Mac and the PC versions are not reputed to work as well.

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