"If you can distinguish between good and bad advice, you don't
ST NEWS APPLICATION PACKAGE REVIEW: "NEODESK" 4 BY GRIBNIF
by Richard Karsmakers
As far as I am concerned, there has never been any alternative
desktop that could as much as sniff at "NeoDesk". I have to say,
however, that I am severely prejudiced and have never actually
had much experience (none at all, actually) with the German
products "Gemini" (shareware) and "Ease" (commercial, by
Application Systems Heidelberg) nor "Teradesk" which people
sometimes tend to rave about. "NeoDesk" was there before all the
others and I am not a person who easily changes his user
interface all the time. I started with version 1 back in '88 and
have upgraded every single version available. The period from
October 1993 until July or August 1994 was sheer hell because
"NeoDesk" version 3 didn't quite work on the Falcon. I was happy
beyond mere immensity when, finally, Gribnif started shipping
their new version 4.
I trust I won't have to go through lengths to explain what
"NeoDesk" is - it's the thing that makes working with your ST, TT
or Falcon just that bit more (a large bit more) enjoyable,
reliable and comfortable. There are people who thought "NeoDesk"
has become redundant with the release of Falcon TOS 4.xx, but all
I can say to these people is that, really, they haven't got a
To think that Atari could theoretically have called Gribnif so
we could have all this extreme niceness in ROM, say, TOS 4.xx or
But that's just a dream. One that's even less likely to become
reality ever than my being fondled by the entire female part of
the Revlon commercial acting team.
I trust most of you are to some extent familiar with "NeoDesk",
at least in its various incarnations before version 4. If you're
not, I suppose you can be categorized in one of the following two
groups of people.
1) You've been using the standard Atari desktop since day one
and never thought there could be anything even better. You are to
be pitied. I suggest you don't even read this review. Just get
"NeoDesk" or, for that matter, one of the German products.
Anything is better than Atari's desktop (except for Windoze, of
2) You're a "Gemini" or "Ease" user. In that case you're
probably German, too, and there is no way I could ever dissuade
you from keeping on using a product of the "Deutsche
3) You're a "Teradesk" user. I guess you'll not want to switch,
because old habits die hard and you can't teach old dogs new
tricks and all that stuff.
So I guess you will have exited this review already unless
you're still reading now, in which case you're probably a user of
"NeoDesk" in an earleir incarnation.
"NeoDesk" version 4 offers some tremendous advantages over these
previous versions. At a glance, they are:
o Multitasking support, including background file copying and
disk formatting. "NeoDesk" can even be run as an accessory.
o The look has been modernised. 3D buttons and scroll bars
galore. Scroll bar movement also updates the windows in
"real time" now.
o A powerful "group" option that allows for series of files
and programs to be grouped together.
o Icons can now use up to 16 colours. Selected and unselected
icons can be different. Pinch the icons from "Ease",
however, because they're more stylish (like comparing a
Mercedes with an Oldsmobile).
o Powerful search option.
o File-related drop-down menus now appear at the top of
directory display windows, which is basically where they're
o On-line hyper-linked context-sensitive help screens
o GDOS and SpeedoGDOS font support.
o "NeoDesk Program Information" files can determine the way
any programs works from "NeoDesk", customising in the full
sense of the word.
o All the other options of older versions are still there,
such as "Desktop Notes", "Recoverable Trashcan", "Clipboard"
(a dynamically resizable RAMdisk), "split windows",
"keyboard shortcuts", "extended NeoDesk volume names", "file
viewer", "comfortable copying/moving", "flexible
formatting", "macros", "different desktop.inf kindof files",
"batch files", "built-in icon editor", "NeoDesk control
panel" (including screen blanker and corner clock), "printer
queue accessory" and a "really good manual" (>150 pages of
"NeoDesk" version 4 works like a breeze. The first release
(.001) had a few nasty little bugs, one of which being that the
"sort order" wasn't actually saved into its configuration files.
The "NeoDesk" accessories also gave innocent errors when booting,
requiring you to press [RETURN] once for each you had loaded.
This was fixed in release .002, for which update patches can be
found at just about every FTP site, BBS or PD library that claims
to be any good. There were several other small bugs, apparently,
but I never even noticed those and now they're gone anyway.
However, release .002 has a small problem that version .001
didn't have. When "Warp 9" is installed, it seems not to want to
display its drive directory window pull-down menus or slider bars
and gadgets and the like - everything will just be white. I am
pretty sure this wasn't present in .001.
Basically, I find myself quite unable to write a review any
better than the above (even though that was just a mere summary).
"NeoDesk" has become an integral part of my Atari computing
experience and it's a thing I've grown used to so much that I
don't consider half of its benefits anything other than pretty
ordinary by now. Like love, I guess "NeoDesk" is something you'll
only learn to value properly when you haven't got it for a while.
Like when you're working on someone else's system for some time,
or when you're forced to work on an MS-DOS machine at school. The
period between my buying a Falcon and the release of "NeoDesk"
version 4 was a terrible one, but the mind has done a good job of
blocking away these bad experiences so "NeoDesk" is now just like
another part of me again.
I wouldn't even want to contemplate of what life would be
P.O. Box 779
Northampton, MA 01061-0779
United States of America
Tel. (413) 247-5620
Fax. (413) 247-5622
I'd like to thank Dan Wilga for arranging a bit of a discount at
my purchase of the "NeoDesk" version 4 upgrade together with
"Geneva". I think these have been the finest purchases I've made
The text of the articles is identical to the originals like they appeared in old ST NEWS issues. Please take into consideration that the author(s) was (were) a lot younger and less responsible back then. So bad jokes, bad English, youthful arrogance, insults, bravura, over-crediting and tastelessness should be taken with at least a grain of salt. Any contact and/or payment information, as well as deadlines/release dates of any kind should be regarded as outdated. Due to the fact that these pages are not actually contained in an Atari executable here, references to scroll texts, featured demo screens and hidden articles may also be irrelevant.