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I have a license for Mathematica through my college. Today I downloaded and installed a trial version of WolframAlpha Notebook Edition. According to this support page the notebook is supposed to look like this:

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On my computer (an iMac) new notebooks look like:

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As far as I can tell WolframAlpha Notebook Edition allows a user to input regular Mathematica commands and execute them. Other than having WolfraAlpha Notebook Edition on the top of my notebook I can't tell the difference between Mathematica and WolfraAlpha Notebook Edition.

Perhaps WolframAlpha Notebook Edition will be easier for students to download and purchase. Why would one use WolframAlpha Notebook Edition? I did read this blog post and still don't know why I would use this.

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  • $\begingroup$ On windows this wolfram alpha notebook is 3GB. Does it have the full wolfram engine? Also can all the natural language processing this is doing doable on the wolfram notebook in its wolfram alpha cell (= and ==)? $\endgroup$ – user13892 Sep 19 at 20:23
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To quote Stephan:

It’s built on a huge tower of technology, but what it does is to let any student—without learning any syntax or reading any documentation—immediately build up or work through computations. *Just type input the way you would in Wolfram|Alpha. But now you’re not just getting a one-shot answer. Instead, everything is in a Wolfram Notebook, where you can save and use previous results, and build up or work through a whole computation

The particular version Appears to let a student (i assume someone who doesn’t know programming very well, or a child for example) to use the natural language interpreter of Wolframalpha and its backend to do Mathematica complex computations.

It’s simply a way for people to use mathematica how many students have already learned to use wolfram alpha.

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  • $\begingroup$ I read that blog post but it didn't explain the differences between Mathematica and Mathematica Notebook Edition for the context given in my question. Apparently if you have Mathematica and are "logged in" the interface changes. This is not talked about in the blog post. $\endgroup$ – sykh Sep 13 at 14:50
  • $\begingroup$ Your question was, "Why would one use WolframAlpha Notebook Edition?" I answered this question. But I guess I missed the actual question of why the interface is different. Yes, apparenty the only real difference is the banner and that this version only allows free form input. $\endgroup$ – morbo Sep 13 at 15:00
  • $\begingroup$ When I asked the question I didn’t know that having Mathematica on your computer changes the way WolframAlpha Notebook Edition looks and how it operates. If you have Mathematica the Notebook Edition is essentially the same as Mathematica but with a banner at the top. That’s what confused me. I was wondering why there is a product announcement that has the same functionality as Mathematica but with a banner fixed at the top. $\endgroup$ – sykh Sep 14 at 3:52
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Alpha Notebook vs Mathematica :

Differences: - Mathematica, despite the sometimes painful syntax, works reliably; in my experience, Alpha Notebook does not (see below)

Things in common: - both (supposedly) run and can process input locally on your PC (see below--Alpha Notebook does not seem to do this, however)

On paper, the summaries from others above seem right. However, after I subscribed to Alpha Notebook and installed the app on my Win10 PC, I had problems almost right out of the box, both with the software and with Wolfram "tech support" (available 9-5 Champaign-Urbana time...which isn't super duper for those of us in not in North America, btw).

After starting the app and checking that I was registered/activated, I tried a few arithmetic evaluations--these worked, happily. Then tried to plot a simple 2d function...and was treated to 1-2 minute pause with message amounting to, "Waiting to connect to servers". This product isn't supposed to require constant internet connectivity, and supposedly can run relatively simple math problems locally on my PC, right?

Called Wolfram "tech support" about this at the tel# on their site, and got a guy who, while polite, had no idea about the product (though this only became evident after wasting 5-10 minutes), then insisted, "Oh, Alpha Notebook is produced by our sister company, not Wolfram; you should call them." He promised to send me an email w/tel# for their mysterious sister company...but this email never arrived.

Gave up and asked cust. support to cancel subscription. They were polite, and aghast that their own tech support team had little clue about the product (Alpha Notebook), and that they invented this bizarre story about a "sister company" to close the ticket. They processed my refund and cancellation, whereupon I thanked them and deleted Wolfram stuff from my system.

Bottom line: from my experience, Alpha Notebook does not seem "ready for prime time" (that is, as paying customer, get ready to put in your time a product tester, too), and the organization seems to be in a state of disorganization. Too bad, since the product sounded good on paper. --Rob

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I discovered the differences between Mathematica and WolframAlpha Notebook Edition. If you install WolframAlpha Notebook Edition and have Mathematica on your machine then the interface for the notebooks changes. This explains why my notebooks look different than the notebooks in the blog post I linked to. If you don't have Mathematica or are not "logged into" Mathematica then the interface changes. If you do have Mathematica then the notebooks are essentially the same as Mathematica notebooks but with the WoflramAlpha Notebook Edition banner as seen in the picture above.

If you don't have Mathematica then the notebooks are not like Mathematica notebooks. Whenever a person starts typing in a new cell in WolframAlpha Notebook Edition it automatically puts that typing in a free form input cell. You then execute that free form input. In some cases you can end up with a regular Mathematica input cell that can be edited but this must come from executing a free form input cell. It appears to have the full power of Mathematica in terms of processing but all input must be done via free form input cells.

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    $\begingroup$ I'm pretty confident it's just a front-end layer on a basic Mathematica kernel so I'd bet one can make it operate 100% identically by only changing FE settings. $\endgroup$ – b3m2a1 Sep 13 at 19:24

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