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Better interface, design capabilities, element tags offer improvements to range of users
PRODUCT SUMMARY MicroStation for Windows/DOS Version 5
Company: Intergraph Corp. of Huntsville, Ala., is at (800) 345-4856 or (205) 730-2000; fax: (800) 240-4300.
List price: $3,790. Upgrade from Version 4 is $475 until March 31; after that, $950. Additional networked copies cost $3,755. There are discounts for moving to the Windows NT version as well.
Requires: Intel 80386 or compatible; 8MB RAM (16MB recommended); 80MB hard disk space for full installation; MS-DOS or PC DOS 3.1 or later; math coprocessor; mouse or digitizer tablet. Microsoft Windows 3.1 for Windows version.
Pros: Flexible user interface, full featured; powerful three-dimensional features; fairly fast.
Cons: Cannot plot from within program.
Summary: Top-notch, high-end CAD program for both 2-D and 3-D drawing; extremely flexible and configurable.
In the first major release in several years, Intergraph's MicroStation for Windows/DOS, Version 5 includes many enhancements at both basic and sophisticated levels. Some of the basics provide users with commands that are comparable to those in major CAD competitors, while some of the sophisticated enhancements (such as dimension-driven cells and mass property calculations) are new territory for a dedicated CAD program; these make MicroStation a design tool as well as a drafting tool.
MicroStation was already one of the top-scoring PC CAD packages, competing well against AutoCAD and CADvance, to name two; now MicroStation is the highest scoring product in the category. Intergraph has also shipped a Windows NT version and plans to release the product on several Unix platforms during the next three months.
Our primary test platform was a 486DX2/66 with 32MB of RAM and 425MB hard disk running DOS 6.2 and Windows 3.1. For consistency with past speed tests, we benchmarked on a 25-MHz 386 with math coprocessor, 8MB of RAM, 120MB hard disk, MS-DOS 6.2, and Windows 3.1. We used the same test criteria as in our reviews of CADvance 6.0 for Windows (October 18, 1993, page 103) and AutoCAD 12 for Windows (April 26, 1993, page 91).
Intergraph has improved MicroStation's usability by moving commands around and combining others to make a typical drafter more productive. For example, the fence menu (or selection window), which is used frequently when selecting and modifying objects, is now incorporated into the main menu palette. The pull-down menus now stay down when selected; you do not have to keep the mouse button depressed to find and activate a menu option. The snap modes, expanded in this version, are readily accessible with a keystroke and you can change views more easily.
Fortunately, this smoothing of operations has not detracted from MicroStation's particular strength of a flexible user interface with clear prompts and multiple methods of performing the same task. This version is even more …