Virtual OS/2 International Consumer Education

April 1998


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Something is rotten in Armonk

An editorial view from Mark Dodel, editor of the VOICE Newsletter

What is going on at IBM? They say they want to focus on network computing and not the desktop. OK, this makes no sense, but has OS/2 all of a sudden stopped working on desktop machines? Not here it hasn't. Then why won't IBM pre-load OS/2 on any of their hardware? They refuse to do so on Aptivas and Thinkpads. Instead they install Windows95 and Windows NT, and get this, they provide free support for those operating systems. If you install OS/2 on your own IBM computer, they will charge you $190 per incident if you need support. What is going on here?

Most companies would love to have the loyalty and support that users have shown for OS/2. OS/2 users provide as good or better self support for our operating system via the web, usenet, mail lists and IRC then most large companies do for their own products. And we do it free of charge, expecting nothing in return except maybe an occasional thank you. And how does IBM treat us? They ignore us, and want us to go away. This behavior on their part is truly bizarre to say the least.

Why do we put up with it? Simple, many of us don't. Since IBM stopped promoting OS/2 two years ago, about the time of the release of Warp 4.0, there has been a steady defection of OS/2 users. But many of us continue to slog on, even though IBM is trying as hard as it can to get rid of us. Why do we continue supporting a product of a company that doesn't support us?

Well I can only answer for myself. I use OS/2 and OS/2 only in my business and my home, because it's still the best operating system around. It runs faster, more stable, better multi-tasking and the best connectivity of any OS I know of. OS/2 simply runs circles around the competition. So why is it not the most popular computer operating system? That's an easy one summed up in three letters - IBM. They have made it next to impossible for people to get information about OS/2, they have made it equally impossible for any systems to come pre-installed with OS/2, and they spend huge amounts of money promoting the competition's product.

IBM will respond that they tried to promote OS/2 (remember the Czech nuns ad and the one football bowl game?) and they didn't succeed overnight, so they gave up and moved on. First telling everyone they were going to become OS neutral, now they freely admit that they don't want us running OS/2 anymore and they will do nothing more then fix problems, as long as you pay to tell them about them. When IBM Germany did in fact promote OS/2, and persuade others to preload it, they had great success. So much success that IBM executives had to start rumours about dropping OS/2 to put an end to it.

Now IBM refuses to install OS/2 on it's own hardware. This is a bizarre case of anticompetitive practice against a company's own product in favour of a competitor's products. This eliminates any choice there may have been in personal computer operating systems. Now everyone has to buy a pc with windows on it. The only alternatives are to pay someone to remove windows and purchase a copy of your preferred operating system to be installed, or do it yourself. We all know that almost all people purchasing a new computer will just take windows rather then go to the trouble of doing it themselves or paying extra for someone else to do it. That is a monopoly. I myself am sending the US Department of Justice a complaint about IBM's refusal to pre-load their own operating system on their own hardware. Something is indeed rotten in Armonk.

If you want to help do something about IBM's OS/2 policy here are a few places to send your thoughts. Please keep all correspondence on a business-like level and give details not opinions when writing.

If you find IBM's anti-OS/2 policy as offensive as I, then write a letter detailing why this policy is anti-competitive to:
Joel I. Klein
Assistant Attorney General
Antitrust Division
U.S. Department of Justice
601 D Street, NW
Washington, DC 20530

If you would like to let IBM know that you are not happy with their anti-OS/2 policy, send an email to:
John Stenson
Network Computing Software

According to John, even though IBM Management does not see all letters of complaint, they receive reports documenting all complaints. Mr. Stenson relayed to me that about 85% of the complaints he receives are about IBM's OS/2 policy.

Finally if you want to let Lou Gerstner's office know how you feel you can do so by pointing your favorite web browser to

Mark Dodel
Editor, VOICE Newsletter


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