The Virtual Quilt, A Newsletter for Computing Quilters


Number Two * August 15, 1995


The Microsoft Network: What will it Offer Quilters?


Windows 95 is finally on the horizon, and most folks (including the Justice Department) know that it will come with online software built into the operating system which will provide access to Microsoft's new service, The Microsoft Network (MSN). MSN is already up and running with about 10,000 beta testers, and will be opened for public access on August 24, the same day Windows 95 is released.

What can quilters expect from this new service? Will it take fiberarts seriously, or will it be like many of the other online services, slow to recognize the value of its online community of quilters and other needleworkers?

According to Debra Weiss, Forum Manager for MSN's needle arts area, called STITCH, Microsoft will have plenty to offer. "STITCH," she says, "is devoted to building community for quilting and all textile arts." It will be divided into three areas, Quilting, Sewing, and Needle Arts, and each area will be further subdivided into areas of interest. The Quilting section will contain such areas as Design and Color, Contemporary Quilting, Traditional Quilting, Gadgets, Questions and Answers for New Quilters, Sewing Machines and Upcoming Shows & Exhibits.

Like other online services, MSN's STITCH Forum will offer bulletin boards, chat rooms, and libraries, but with a few different twists. Within each of the categories on the bulletin boards, messages will be threaded (kept together with their replies and other messages with the same subject) but they will be viewable in two ways: Conversation (by thread) or List (chronological order). This is a departure from other services, in which you can view messages in one way or the other, but not both.

"Further," Debra says, "the quilting area has a Quilt Studio, which is activity-based. The Studio is where we'll be doing block and fabric exchanges, design challenges, contests, community service projects, etc.

"There is also a Quilt Gallery, which is a library containing pictures of outstanding quilts and works by our members . . . and a Quilt Block Library which is a collection of both editable and viewable files of blocks members can download for design purposes. While we'll have a variety of file formats, we'll be using mainly Electric Quilt 2.0 files as our 'standard.'"

Another new twist will be the organization of material in the forum's libraries into databases. "We'll be compiling some categories into databases as we get busier," Debra says. "For example, all the Tips and Tricks areas will be consolidated into databases that members can download. Databases are much better for searching and indexing information, so instead of wading through tons of separate messages, members will be able to quickly find the information they are looking for. Microsoft Access will be the database standard."

MSN will offer access to internet quilting resources through a Web browser and the newsgroups, which will be linked into STITCH.

The price for subscribing to MSN has not yet been released, but it is rumored to be competitive, if not aggressive, in order to win converts from the other online services. In addition, Debra says that MSN is a "transaction-based" service, in which it will be quite easy to do business.

"We'll be able to charge for very specific items. . . such as files or access to a special event. STITCH will primarily be a free community-based area, although we may charge for some of the blocks in our library, which will be provided by an outside provider, and we might do our own multimedia publication that will be subscription-based. There are going to be hundreds and hundreds of independent content providers on MSN that will be charging for all kinds of cool stuff.

"To sum up, I think STITCH will be different from other areas in that my goal for it is 'one-stop shopping' for folks interested in the textile arts...everything of interest we can find to stick in there will be there, no matter what format it's in. MSN features rich text formatting, so there's lots of color, and fonts, and pictures and animation and sound on the horizon. Because MSN is supporting over 40 countries, the whole network is very international in nature. Quilting is popular worldwide, and I'd like STITCH to be a great resource for everyone who's interested in the textile arts to meet each other, share experiences and ideas, learn something and have a lot of fun, too."

What if you're a Macintosh user, or your old 386 machine just doesn't have the horsepower to run Win 95? Can you access MSN? For now, you're out of luck. There will be no software available from Microsoft to access it through Windows 3.1, and a Macintosh version is probably a good ways in the future.

Even leaving these users in the dust, Microsoft has high hopes for MSN, expecting to have 2 million users by the end of 1995 and projecting some 20 million by the end of 1996. Asked if these estimates were realistic, Debra replied: "Twenty million by 1996 may be stretching it, but, hey, dream big or stay home, right?"


WANT ADS


For Sale: Large, colorful "Kimono Memory" quilt poster, pieced kimonos alternate with sashiko embroidered blocks. Published in "Japanese Quilts" book by Liddell and Watanabe. Perfect for your sewing room, nice enough for the living room. Send $15 (includes postage and mailing tube) to: Marina Salume, 419 Correas Avenue, Half Moon Bay, CA 94019


QUILTED CREATIONS takes the "drab" out of wheelchair accessories. Designers of the original quilted wheelchair bag! Also walker, tote and fanny bags. All bags one of a kind. 100% cotton preshrunk fabric, machine pieced and quilted, fully lined with inside pocket. Accessorize with flair! E-mail at ENRG18A@PRODIGY.COM for brochure. Millie Becker


AMERICAN ANTIQUE QUILTS/TOPS/BLOCKS & FABRIC for sale. Reasonable prices; credit cards accepted. For a free catalog, send your post office address to: HHAQKris@aol.com. Kris Driessen, Hickory Hill Antique Quilts. Always looking for old quilts, tops, blocks and fabric in any condition for restoration purposes.


In This Issue:

Following is a list of the rest of the stories in this issue of TVQ. In order to read them, you must be a subscriber. Subscribing online here and following up with the small subscription fee will entitle you to eight issues of TVQ, including this one. You will receive TVQ every six weeks by e-mail, and will be issued a password to access it here on the World Wide Quilting Page.

Subscribers: Please report any password problems to rholland@planetpatchwork.com. Be sure to include your name & e-mail address. We will try to resolve all password problems within 24 hours. Thank you!


And here's what's inside!

  • EQ2 Companion To the Rescue!

    A catalogue of the quilt blocks in EQ2 assists users in unexpected ways.


  • Quilting and Computers Join Forces in Holland

    Learn about quilting in the Netherlands and how it is about to get an online boost from an enterprising couple.


  • Quilting Tip

    See what a dime is good for!


  • Firm Marketing Computer Games for Girls

    The face of computer games could be changed by new concepts being tried by Girl Games Software.


  • World Wide Quilting Page Experiencing Growing Pains

    The explosive growth of the Web's World Wide Quilting Page has created headaches, and opportunities, for Sue and Eric Traudt.


  • Quilter Profile: Millie Becker

    Learn why for this Prodigy quilter both quilting and computing are matters of necessity.


  • Software Review: PCQuilt for the Macintosh

    Does this inexpensive quilt design software stand up to the mega-programs?


  • Interquilt: That *Other* Mailing List

    Meet Melissa Bishop, iconoclast and founder of Interquilt, the quilting maillist that takes pride in its differences.


  • Interquilt to Move to Subscription Basis

    Internet quilters soon will have to pay for something they have long enjoyed for free. Is it a harbinger?


    COMMENTS, QUESTIONS, NEWS, IDEAS, BRICKBATS?


    Like any news publication, TVQ is always hungry for information about new developments in the area we are trying to cover. If you have an idea for a story, or want to tell the world about something you are doing which relates to computers and quilting, we'd like to hear about it.

    We'd like news of new classes starting up to teach quilt design on computers, or new approaches to that teaching. New products, maillists, World Wide Web pages, etc., are all fair game, and we'd appreciate any tips you can provide. Send your tips by e-mail to rholland@planetpatchwork.com.

    If you have a comment about an article, a complaint or a correction, we're glad to hear that, too, and may publish some comments as letters to the editor. Again, these may be sent to rholland@planetpatchwork.com.


    Editor and Publisher: Robert Holland, Decatur, GA

    Copyright (c) 1995 by Robert Holland. All rights reserved. This file may not be reproduced in any form except to be printed out for the personal use of its owner without the expressed, written consent of the copyright holder.


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    In upcoming issues you will find more in-depth reviews of quilt design software (next issue: Quilt-Pro for Windows), more profiles of quilters, as well as profiles of online quilting communities (next issue: CompuServe). These features will be interspersed with news of developments in the quickly changing and expanding world of online quilting.

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