Virtual OS/2 International Consumer Education

May 1998


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The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

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

Last month I ranted about IBM's anti-OS/2 policy. This month I'd like to focus on some good things happening with OS/2 recently before going into a further diatribe on the Bad. That's not to say that we shouldn't keep the pressure on IBM since that is the only way we will get them to see the error of their ways. However if we only see the bad, we'll just be seen as miserable whiners.

The good news is that after years of waiting Lotus has finally released a Generally Available version of their Smart Suite for OS/2 4.0. And unlike the half-baked Smart Suite 96 for OS/2 version released a year or so ago, this version contains most of the Standard applications available for years to windows users. Lotus is very interested in promoting this product to OS/2 users and they were very cooperative with Rob Burton who reviewed Lotus Smart Suite for OS/2 Warp 4.0 GA for this issue.

Lotus has priced LSSOW4 very reasonably for the whole suite of apps. Unfortunately Lotus won't sell them separately. The competitive upgrade price though applies to just about anyone, since IBM Works included with Warp 4.0 counts toward the upgrade. For more information on this check out Rob's review and Lotus's website -

Another new game release (OK an update, but significant) is Galactic Civilizations Gold from Stardock. Brad has fixed lots of bugs, improved the IA and added a second gaming scenario - playing on a world environment instead of a space one. I'm involved in a game now and it's addictive. Brad also states that Stardock will be releasing an update to Object Desktop soon, but didn't get into details other then to say it won't be an expensive upgrade, and it will be for both OD and OD Pro versions in one. Also Entrepreneur, Stardock's corporate startegy simulator is now available in most computer software chains. So if you are looking to buy something shrink wrapped in a store, now's your chance. I can't wait until I can look a clerk in the eye and say "I'm going to run this game under the best OS around - OS/2 Warp"

Warpstock is the other bright light in the OS/2 world. This year there will be two events. The first is in Chicago, October 16-18, 1998 - The second event is to take place on December 18-20 1998 in the town hall Osnabrück, Germany - These are two opportunities for OS/2 users to meet other OS/2 users and learn more about our favourite personal computing operating system. As Esther Schindler said on the Warpstock mail list,"Microsoft can't buy grass roots support" whereas OS/2 users have been giving it to IBM for free for years. Now what we really need at Warpstock is a class for IBM executives on what to do with all this enthusiasm.

The IBM DDPAK Online site is accumulating lot's of new drivers these days. If you plan to install one of those new monster IDE drives, check out In addition there are new installation disk updates that include the new greater then 8.4 Gig IDE driver support, new IDE CD­ROM Support and PIIX PCI Busmaster / Ultra DMA Support for Warp at

Now as to the Bad and Ugly. The US DOJ is focusing it's efforts entirely on the wrong issue in trying to restrain Microsoft's monopoly in the personal computer software market. (I hate to mention Microsoft in this newsletter, but bear with me for a moment). They are trying to unbundle IE because by giving it away for free, Microsoft is driving Netscape out of business. OK fair enough, but the crux of the issue, should be why is Microsoft in such a dominating position in the industry that they can snap their fingers and get 26 big name toadies to sign a letter begging the DOJ to lay off of Microsoft because it will hurt their business?

The answer to this is simple. PRELOADS. Try to buy an Intel based computer from IBM with anything other than windows on it. You can't. (Seems like I am fixated on this issue, eh?) Why not? Is it because there is no market for OS/2 or Unix or Linux preloaded on an Intel compatible personal computer? Nope, as I stated last month I want to buy a Thinkpad with OS/2 preloaded and supported by IBM, but they refuse to sell it to me.

OK, then is it because windows (whatever flavor of the year) is the best damn computer operating system so why bother fooling with anything less? Well according to some trolls in comp.os.os2.advocacy that is the case. These folks are of course wrong. On it's best days windows can't come close to the stability, multi-tasking ability and resource utilization of OS/2, Unix or Linux. It can however run the 'Interactive Barney®' doll, so in that regard it is superior for a 4 year old.

So what is it? It's the preload contracts. Yes, that's the ticket. After Microsoft was told to stop charging for windows for every cpu a hardware manufacturer shipped, whether windows was installed or not, their lawyers came up with a new anti-competitive plan. Just force the hardware manufacturers to sign a contract saying that they will only get windows real cheap if that is the only operating system that is installed period. No need to charge per cpu, just charge per copy of windows since that is all they are allowed to install.

So if IBM installs it's own operating system on it's own computers, they violate their contract and have to pay Microsoft significantly more for every copy of windows they install. That would cost them hundreds of millions of dollars. The only way to break out of this mess is for someone to wake up and outlaw this nonsense. At least with the per cpu tax to Microsoft, companies were still allowed to preload other operating systems, they just had to also pay for one they didn't use. The US DOJ made this mess now it is up to them to clean it up. Outlaw these monopolistic contracts immediately.

If you would like to let IBM know that you want them to support OS/2 or anything else send an email to:
John Stenson
Network Computing Software

According to John, even though IBM Management does not see all letters of praise/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

And lest we forget, there is still not a state of true nirvana in OS/2 land. There is still the issue of IBM not pre-loading OS/2 on their own systems. I have included a copy of the letter I have sent to the US DOJ in this issue of the newsletter in the letters, addendum, errata page. Here is the address of Joel Klein, the US Assistant Attorney General handling the Federal government's Microsoft anti-trust case for those interested in writing a letter of their own.

Joel I. Klein
Assistant Attorney General
Antitrust Division
U.S. Department of Justice
601 D Street, NW
Washington, DC 20530

Mark Dodel
Editor, VOICE Newsletter


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