Walt Mossberg

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Palm Pre’s New Operating System

Here are a few questions I’ve received recently from people like you, and my answers. I have edited and restated the questions a bit, for readability.

Does the new Palm Pre smart phone use the traditional Palm operating system and the many programs that have been written for it?

Palm’s Pre, which is due out later this year to compete with the iPhone and the BlackBerry, doesn’t use this older software, which was once the best smart-phone operating system, but has grown stale. It uses an entirely new operating system called the Palm webOS, which will have to attract developers willing to write new programs for it. It is a clean break from Palm’s previous hardware and software.

How does the Clickfree computer backup system you covered last week compare with Apple’s Time Machine or online backup services like Mozy or Carbonite?

Clickfree simplifies the chore of backing up files to an external hard disk. However, as I noted in the review, it doesn’t back up your whole hard disk, it doesn’t work automatically in the background, and it doesn’t create a backup physically distant from your computer.

Time Machine, which is built into the Macintosh operating system, automatically backs up your entire computer in the background and includes a very easy method for recovering files. It works with external hard disks. But it doesn’t work on Windows PCs, and it doesn’t create a remote backup over the Internet.

Mozy and Carbonite are online backup solutions. Their advantages are that they work unattended and create offsite backups. But they aren’t intended to back up an entire computer, they don’t create a local backup, and they carry service fees.

Does my 13-inch MacBook come with the capability to view PowerPoint files?

No. While Macs come out of the box with the ability to view and create files in the Microsoft Word and Adobe PDF formats, they don’t come with a PowerPoint viewer. In order to view (and create) PowerPoint files on a Mac, your best bet is to buy the Macintosh version of Microsoft Office, which includes PowerPoint itself. There are other methods as well. For instance, Apple’s own lower-priced iWork suite can also open PowerPoint files and create files in the PowerPoint format. And some Web-based office programs, like Google Docs, allow you to view PowerPoint files on Macs.

You can find Mossberg’s Mailbox, and my other columns, online free of charge at the new All Things Digital Web site, http://walt.allthingsd.com.

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