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May 1999

"A different perspective on Warp"

By: Louis Muollo - Redoaks@worldnet.att.net

Hopefully I can give a different perspective on Warp, as I am a keyboard flunky and use a lot of 16-bit Windows programs. However, due to the fact that buying a computer meant buying Windows (I even went so far as to make Professional Computers send me a unit less the hard drive, figuring they would have no where to put it when they refused to install Linux instead of Windows) I started building my own. I now have 5 units out there, three of which are full SCSI. Anyway-this is what I have to say.

On December 30,1995 I walked into the local Media Play because I had enough of Dos and Windows 3.11. There on the shelf were several copies of IBM OS/2 Warp 3 Blue Spine. The price of $138.99 marked on the box didn't make me blink an eye-here was a possible answer by Big Blue to that damn Windows.

I was surprised how easily it installed and found my hardware. Win-OS/2 loaded all my Win3.11 programs. But they ran slow. That stopped me from installing it at work.

Then came Warp 4. I jumped at the chance to get the upgrade from Indelible blue. This was it. The Windows 16 bit programs, with a little tuning, ran great off the toolbar in a seamless session. I found that after the years of never being able to master Dos/Win3.11, I was learning things. The native OS/2 programs were a different world. I found myself using my computer more, and enjoying it more. I had programs to work with between work and home, like Filestar, CAD Commander, Gammatech, Unimaint, PM Patrol. PMView,ZOC and a whole lot more. The response and tech support by the OS/2 software developers is unparalleled.

IBM ruined it. IBM pulled the OS/2 off the shelves and caused software development to become stagnant. Maybe they had reasons, I don't know. But I see no justification for stifling an operating system the way IBM has.

That's why I am so relieved to see efforts such as Xfree. To have access to hundreds of Linux programs can save OS/2. The best course seems to be to get Warp as far from IBM as possible. IBM cannot be forced to make Warp 5. Let them write as many fixes and drivers as they will.

Until IBM decides to poop or pop, those that depend on Warp will do what they have to do. Drivers can be the biggest problem. New hardware writes for Windows, that's where the money is. Nobody will depend on IBM to make Warp a viable system. So Warpists should wait & hope? I have a better idea, at least for the major technologies that may evolve without including OS/2.

Our mini-mainframe system is old. It is very expensive, hardware critical, outdated and cranky. The software is the best money can buy for what it does and can't be replaced because it is for specific hardware. If a disk goes down, it must be replaced with the exact same type of MFM drive, same heads, same size or it won't run. The software has been made ready for Y2K. We have found a software company that can actually interface this software to Intel architecture. This means the software can be sold again, and the current users of this program can all breath a sigh of relief. No big software expense, no relearning. Its great.

Upgrades to this software are lacking because it was so near death. When they do come, this is how it will work:
When a customer wants an upgrade, or the company designs one, all users of the system will be contacted and offered this upgrade. The cost, given by the developer, will be split among the users wanting the upgrade. No one will have to pay for something that's good for Peter, but not for Paul.

I have huge blind spots, the way I see things. But I sure can't see why this idea won't work with Warp. We now have access to unlimited programming. People will always write programs for OS/2. But if Company X makes product Y for Windows, OS/2 users may never see it. As an example, Windows seems to be quite far ahead of OS/2 with USB support. So, by using avenues such as Warpcast, Voice, all the OS/2 User groups, why not find out what people want. Trust would be involved because either the work would be paid for in advance, or the driver writer has to hope those that wanted it bought it. But we are going through that now with our system. The trust is there.

After watching the Danis IBM506 driver be developed and worked on, I realized that IBM is expected to write drivers, but if they don't, someone else can. If Daniela Engert was approached with an offer from 150 OS/2 users for a certain driver, she just might write it. If the cost was $2000.00 and 200 users buy in, it gets pretty cheap.

I know most people will consider this a stupid idea, but I don't agree. Linux got where it is by people getting involved and writing. OS/2 can offer an incentive, because OS/2 is the strongest, best OS out there. and if it gets more people to use OS/2, the cost of work to be done will come down per person. At least it's something to think about. And, who knows, if IBM sees their baby getting away, maybe they will wake up.

Louis Muollo

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