Girding for the next salvo in the personal computer wars, area software retailers already are receiving calls for Microsoft's Windows 3.1, a program that makes IBM-style computers appear more like friendly Apple computers.
Users who want to communicate with their IBM and IBM-compatible machines using the easily understood icons made famous by rival Apple can buy Microsoft's Windows program, scheduled for release Monday. Or they can turn to IBM's new version of OS/2, which was released Tuesday.
"People are anxiously awaiting" the updated version of Windows and started calling about it this week, said Tom O'Donnell of Egghead Software in Towson.
"This is probably the most awaited product in years," said David Leetham, manager of the Software, Etc. store in Hunt Valley.
The battle between International Business Machines Corp. and Microsoft to develop user-friendly software is likely to set off a buying spree, since people with old software probably will buy new icon-compatible versions of their old programs, salespeople said.
But some salespeople said that although the new IBM programs are good, they don't bring IBM into the same league as rival Apple.
The latest version of Windows is an improvement over the previous attempts, Mr. Leetham said. "A lot of people have been using it, but they want more," he said.
The new version "is very nice to use, but it doesn't make the computers quite as friendly" as Apple Computer's Macintosh series, Mr. Leetham said.
Mr. Leetham said he already has a waiting list of buyers for Windows.
Microsoft is listing the latest version of Windows at $149.95, but it will be sold at discount for less than $100.