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January 2000

Followup to the 64-bit OS/2

By: Don K. Eitner freiheit@tstonramp.com

Rumors of a new, 64-bit OS/2 client could be true, but many readers of my View From the End (User) column last month failed to read through the entire article before busting out to IRC, newsgroups, and e-mail lists with the great news that OS/2 was going to be reborn with a vengeance. They failed to read the last few lines which clearly stated that the article was a wishful piece of what could be if we all push IBM hard enough to finally acknowledge OS/2's continuing vitality.

One reader wrote in asking why I would write such an article and suggesting it would be better to only talk about things that truly will happen. Well this may be, but I for one am sick of reporting that "IBM once again tried to kill OS/2 this month". The OS/2 community needs to learn a sense of humor and to be able to laugh at ourselves from time to time. This is healthy. But again, the article in question was fully intended to rouse the sleeping into an uproar that would (hopefully) deafen IBM until they complied with our wishes for a new, truly advanced and modern OS/2 client operating system.

And it seems the uproar was immense! Evidence of heated debates based on my article can be found on numerous OS/2 news sites and mailing list archives. But many of you missed the point and focused on surface issues such as why I would make such wild claims about a new OS/2 client, whether the "Merced" processor will even ship on time for this OS release to work out, and whether or not any of it was true. The truth, in this case, is insignificant compared to the potential for the OS/2 community to rally together and push on IBM to make it the truth!

But all hope need not be lost for this new OS/2 client. One attentive reader pointed out to us here at V.O.I.C.E. that IBM has a little-known operating system under development by the name of K42 (http://www.research.ibm.com/K42/) which IBM's website claims runs on both x86 and PowerPC hardware and provides 64-bit services for high demand environments. Many in the OS/2 community will recall a couple of years back there was discussion of a "microkernel" OS/2 release which would run both on x86 and PowerPC systems. This never materialized nor did IBM have anything positive to say about it, but here is something similar which IBM itself has provided. Is it related in any way to OS/2? Could be. Of course, it could just as easily be related to IBM's AIX operating system or to something completely new and untested. But maybe...

So what's left to say? There was no "IBM insider" and I have no knowledge of IBM's secretive inner workings. I merely have a vision of a grand OS/2 market, in the wake of the Findings of Fact in the Micro$oft anti-trust trial, where if IBM plays their cards right they can seat the single best operating system firmly into the market as a viable and forwardly flexible player. This requires IBM's participation which, at this stage, seems to require that we OS/2 users do something new and drastic to change IBM's misguided notions of OS/2's uselessness. I have provided something drastic, so let's get to working on something new, okay?

Don is the Assistant Editor of the VOICE Newsletter. Besides his monthly End(User) column, and frequent articles, Don has been responsible for the VOICE Newsletter OS/2 News pages for the past two years. Proudly running OS/2 Warp since 1995, you can visit Don at his personal website http://www.tstonramp.com/~freiheit/

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