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By Alexandra Krasne Creating and sharing CD-RWs just got easier. Thanks to a new technology, users have a simple and consistent way to transfer files through Windows Explorer, or save a file to CD-RW from an app--with confidence that other new CD drives will be able to read the disc. More important, CD-RW formatting time is cut to practically nothing because you can start copying files before formatting is done.
The new standard is code-named Mt. Rainier (aka EasyWrite), and some 40X-rated CD-R/RW drives from vendors such as Philips and Teac already support it (you may need a firmware upgrade to make it work, so check with vendors). Nearly all the forthcoming 48X-rated CD-R/RW drives should offer built-in Mt. Rainier support, and the whole market will eventually follow. Even some rewritable-DVD drives, such as next-generation DVD+RW models, will include Mt. Rainier.
A key benefit of Mt. Rainier drives: no need for a CD-RW packet-writing program to let you drag and drop files to disc--that is, once operating system support is built in.Advertisement
And that's the catch. You can buy software that lets you take advantage of Mt. Rainier, but native OS support--which makes the process seamless--lags. (Today, only the Linux 2.4.19 kernel offers support.) Microsoft promised support in Windows XP but did not include it; a company spokesperson said a reader driver is on the way, and the next Windows, code-named Longhorn, should include full support.
WORK IT NOW. You don't have to wait for Microsoft. With Software Architects' , version 3 ($70; $40 for an upgrade), you can use most of Mt. Rainier's nifty features now. (Roxio Easy CD Creator 5.2 also supports Mt. Rainier.)
WriteCD-RW Pro has three utilities to let you write a Mt. Rainier disc, read it in a non-Mt. Rainier drive, and recover lost files or repair discs of various formats. It works with Windows 98, Me, NT, 2000, and XP, and Mac 8.6 and 9.x.
I still had to format discs, but it took less than 5 minutes, compared with an average of 20 minutes or more for most packet-writing utilities. And I had no trouble copying files as the disc formatted. You can even interrupt formatting--it resumes at your next session with no data loss.
Copying and saving files was a breeze. And after I installed SAI's read utility on another PC, both a CD-RW and a DVD-ROM drive that had no Mt. Rainier support or other UDF (Universal Disc Format) software read my new disc.
The full promise of Mt. Rainier is still that--a promise. But SAI's utilities offer many of the technology's benefits now, and may also soon ship with drives as part of the software bundle--a plus for users and their wallets. From the July 2002 issue of PC World magazine