MagiC 4 - Multitasking OS

What is it that made Windows the most popular operating system on the PC? The answer is simple - multitasking.

Windows was not the first system to offer multitasking to users, but it was the first which was both powerful and easy to use. These days the PC market is dominated by Windows 95.

What is multitasking?

Basically multitasking allows the user to run more than one application at the same time. For example, you could be typing a document which needs a picture. All you would need to do is switch to your art package (without quitting) draw the picture and then import it into your document.

The ST has offered a primitive form of multitasking since it's launch. TOS allows you to load 6 'accessories' into memory which can be called from any GEM based program through the 'Desk' menu.

MagiC is different in that it offers 'preemptive' multitasking. This means that programs can carry out their tasks in the background while the user gets on with something else. This form of multitasking is the most advanced and has only very recently been taken on by Windows 95.

What use is it to me?

If you only use your Atari for games or the occasional letter then having multitasking OS isn't going to be very important to you. If however, you use your computer for more 'serious' things then multitasking could be a very useful option.

center If for example you design web pages, you could have CAB, Everest and Imagecopy running simultaneously and you could switch between them at will.

If you do a lot of raytracing, your computer could be unavailable for hours. With MagiC, you could render your picture in the background while you get on with more urgent tasks.

Is MagiC good at multitasking?

The simple answer is yes!

MagiC 4 offers a very stable environment from which you can carry out your day to day computer related work. It replaces a lot of the slow TOS C routines with its own faster assembler alternatives. This means that an Atari running MagiC feels considerably faster than the bog-standard TOS alternative. If you add a screen accelerator such as NVDI 4 your Atari will feel no slower than a 100 MHz Pentium PC!

Some programs do not like multitasking, Protext being a prime example. If you try to load these into MagiC you'll almost certainly face a crash. To get around this MagiC enables you to switch to Single-TOS mode for any programs you specify. This is usually enough to overcome any problems.

MagiC isn't the only multitasking OS on the Atari, it's main competitor is Geneva by Gribnif. Both are well designed and offer similar features. It should be noted that Geneva can run in 512K and is not supplied with a desktop (which is recommended, but not essential). Geneva is available in the UK from Titan Designs.

MultiTOS was Atari's own attempt and these days it is really only used by die-hard Atari freaks! MultiTOS is slow and buggy compared to MagiC and Geneva. MultiTOS can be bought from HiSoft in the UK.

Is there anything else I should know?


MagiC comes supplied with its own desktop - MagxDesk. If memory is not a problem then you'd be well advised to seek out an alternative such as Thing, Ease or Neodesk. MagxDesk is powerful when compared to the GEM desktop but it lacks the advanced options of the others. MagiC also has its own file selector which can be replaced with any of the shareware or commercial alternatives.

MagiC is also very popular with programmers and there a dozens of utilities which enhance the standard MagiC interface. If you use all of these utilities to their best advantage you could have an operating system which would be the envy of the owner of even the most powerful PC.

MagiC does require a fairly powerful Atari to be used effectively. It can run in 2MBytes of memory but more is highly recommended. If you have a Falcon you'd really benefit from a full 14Mbytes of memory. A hard drive is essential and realistically you'll need a monitor which can cope with a resolution of at least 640x400.

If you consider yourself to be a serious Atari user then you really should consider purchasing a multitasking system and MagiC is as good as anything else available at the moment...

Program:MagiC 4Commercial
Platforms:All Atari's (2Mbyte ST, 4Mbyte Falcon)
Address:System Solutions
Windsor Business Centre
Vansittart Rd

Colin Polonowski

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