By the time you read this, Symantec's WinFax PRO 9.0 will be on store shelves. WinFax PRO is the bestselling fax software program on the market. The program comes with TalkWorks, software that allows users to use their PC as an answering machine. TalkWorks also supports fax-on-demand, giving others the ability to dial in to your computer and request documents to be faxed back to them.
WinFax is simple to install and set up. For quick access to its features, WinFax adds an icon to the Windows toolbar for sending and receiving faxes. When you're ready to send a fax, just click on the icon, and the WinFax PRO wizard takes you step by step through the process. It lets you add recipients to your address book, compose a fax cover sheet and attach files to be sent. Before sending the fax, you're given the opportunity to view its layout. From the WinFax icon on the toolbar, you can also enable or disable the incoming fax feature.
To access the more sophisticated features, you have to actually open the WinFax program. Here you can design your own cover sheet or choose one of WinFax's existing templates.
You can also sign up for Internet faxing, which allows users to send faxes via the Net, cutting down on telephone costs and enabling you to do large-group broadcast faxing that ensures all recipients receive their faxes at the same time. Setting up the Internet faxing component was fairly simple, but using it was a different story. First of all, I couldn't determine the charges incurred from using it (though it did say I was getting a free 30-minute trial for signing up). Next, when I attempted to send a fax via the Net, the link to my personalized mail box on the fax service's Web site (http://www.netcentric.com) didn't work, so I couldn't track it. And Symantec's otherwise extensive Help section didn't offer enough details on Internet faxing for effective troubleshooting. I did, however, receive an e-mail message from the fax service within 30 minutes that answered all my questions.
The 9.0 version has two key features worth noting. First, there's a new fax-sharing feature for LANs that enables small offices to load a host copy of WinFax on a single machine that has a modem and dedicated phone line. This means you won't have to equip every machine with a modem and data line. Additionally, true road warriors should benefit from improved support for digital cellular standards, which promises to make sending and receiving faxes from mobile environments easier.
WinFax includes seamless support of Microsoft Exchange and Outlook phonebooks and lets you fairly easily import data from other address book programs.