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Review of:
System Commander Deluxe
by Dave Dietz, Alamo PC

Best thing since sliced bread? Well, maybe, if you are wanting to have more than one operating system on the same computer. This product allows the user to install multiple operating systems on a computer system. The operating systems that it supports include Unix, Dos, Windows 3.1, Windows 95/98, Windows NT, OS/2, and many more. 

Minimum Requirements

640KB RAM minimum, but no bytes remain resident after selecting an operating system. The OS Wizard requires 4 MB while it is running. So if you can run Windows 95, you can run this product. Works with all drive types, IDE, EIDE, SCSI, ESDI, and others. It can handle over 100 different operating systems(if you have enough disk space). Oh, by the way, it can handle disk drives with a capacity of up to 2,047 GB(2 terabytes!). 

What I learned

Some time ago I received a copy of Microsoft Windows NT Workstation and since much of the commercial word is using Windows NT, I wanted to get it up and going. My problem was that I did not want to sacrifice one of my Windows 95 computers for the exclusive use of Windows NT. Since this package was available to test and it claimed to be "the safest and easiest way to add a new operating system", I decided to give it a try. I thought that to be a rather ambitious claim, but my experience with the product has convinced me that it is a realistic statement. 

 The system I decided to install the System Commander on is a Packard Bell 75 hz Pentium running Windows 95 with 24 meg of memory. The manual states that the product is fully compatible with Windows 95/98(will Microsoft deliver in 98???). The manual covers a large amount of material and many different situations. But if one is not eager to learn all about the several different operating systems it supports, you can proceed by running the setup.exe from the Windows 95 run command. 

 WARNING: the manual is very clear that installing System Commander Deluxe on a hard drive that is in compressed format is not recommended. To enforce the point, they tell the user that they will not be responsible for what happens and they will not provide service support. But with hard drives selling at such a low price, few(if any) of us should be using compression anyway. 

 System Commander Deluxe installed easily and correctly on first try and when I re-booted the system it presented me with a screen that allowed me to go into Windows 95 or to add another operating system. When I went into Windows 95, everything came up as it normally would and I could not even tell that the System Commander was on my computer(transparent to the Windows 95 operating system). Norton Anti-Virus did detect changes and wanted to innoculate some of the files(no problem). 

 The System Commander Deluxe allows multiple partitions and can resize or change the type of partition from one type to another(i.e. FAT 16 to FAT 32 or vice versa). When I re-booted the system and System Commander presented it's menu again, I chose the OS Wizard to install another operating system. The Wizard is clear and easy to use. It allowed me to select Windows NT for installation and proceeded to set up the hard drive for the new operating system. 

 After preparing my system for Windows NT, I had to re-boot the system and then the System Commander had a new entry in it's menu called "DOS" which was the new area I had previously set up for Windows NT. When I selected that entry, it wanted a floppy disk for the new operating system to be installed. From that point on, it was all Microsoft's Windows NT installation routines working to install the system. 

I had read many horror stories about installing Windows NT version 4 Workstation and approached this with fear and expecting the worst, but it went well and installed properly the first time. Much of the credit for the ease of installation must go to the System Commander Deluxe. 

 I had originally set this test up on my secondary computer(family's), but I will have no hesitation about installing System Commander Deluxe on my primary system and installing Windows NT afterward. Of course, to do that will require removing Windows NT and System Commander Deluxe from my secondary computer. But joy, the System Commander will remove the Windows NT just as painlessly as it set it up for me and it even provides for it's own removal and restores the original Windows 95 to the same state it was in prior to installing the System Commander Deluxe. 

 Now, before you run down to your local software store and purchase System Commander Deluxe and run the program, remember, the manufacturer highly recommends that you completely back up the system before attempting to install anything. I had no problems, but your configuration may be much different and you could experience problems(even power outage). So it is best to err on side of safety. Backup your system before you use this product. 

 Although installing multiple operating systems on a computer is not for the faint at heart, with a modicum of computer savvy and System Commander Deluxe(version 4.000), you can successfully operate two or more operating systems on the same computer. 

Availability and Price

A check on the Internet revealed the cost of System Commander Deluxe to be $69.95 for a single user license and calling several of the local retailers revealed it is available for $69.99(you save shipping and handling). Multiple licenses are available for discounted prices and site licenses are also available for large organizations wishing to install it on many systems. Those that may own an older version can upgrade for the price of $29.95. 

Vendor Information

V Communications, Inc 
2290 North First Street, Suite 101 
San Jose, CA 95131 

 David has been in the computer business for over twenty seven years, starting as a programmer on main frame computers, programmer on mini-computers, and finally got to program on the personal computers. He has lived mostly in the DOS world (programming in Clipper) for the last several years, but his Clipper stuff runs dandy under Windows and Windows 95. He has recently completed a college course in Visual Basic and will be writing programs specifically for the Windows 32 bit environment.