Virtual OS/2 International Consumer Education

June 1998


Previous Page | Index | Next Page
VOICE Home Page:

View From the End (User)

The Data Path Ahead

By: dON k. eITNER (

First PCWeek Online reported "IBM Suffocates Warp" (May 19, 1998 - by not actively porting OS/2 to Intel's forthcoming (and as yet nonexistent) Merced 64-bit processor.

Then C|Net reports that Intel has pushed back the release of Merced by at least six more months from late 1999 to the middle of 2000 (May 29, 1998 -,4,22577,00.html).

They've done it before, and it seems they're going to keep doing it-- Ziff-Davis jumped the gun in their over-eagerness to finally have their years of declaring OS/2's death come true. It's rather sad that such a widely accepted and large publishing company such as Ziff-Davis is so prone to over-zealous pro-Windows behavior. Naturally, PCWeek failed to mention the fact that new features for the OS/2 Warp client as well as OS/2 Warp Server are available for download from the web (something many ZD editors have been whining for years about not being able to do with Windows) on the Software Choice website (

But it could be worse. In 1996, Jon C.A. DeKeles of ZDNet's AnchorDesk ( boldly declared:

"The new interface [of OS/2 Warp 4.0] is impressive. The voice recognition is interesting (though far from perfect). Stability is good. Java's a plus. If you are using OS/2 now and like it¿definitely upgrade! If not, there's no compelling reason to convert. And many compelling reasons not to."

Four very good points in OS/2's favor, but it's not worth converting to it? His biggest problems with converting were that developers would have to port their software--obviously this man had never seen any catalog of native OS/2 software--and that you'd have to give up your existing investment in Windows software. You're lucky, you get to see several catalogs of OS/2 software such as and It's also humorous to note that this was just one year after people rather willingly gave up their investments in Windows 3.1 software in exchange for Windows 95 software, but Mr. DeKeles conveniently failed to mention that.

Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt, they call it. The fear that your alternative to Windows won't be around for long, uncertainty about making any "rash" decisions to move away from the relative safety of the herd, and the doubt that anyone can ever hope to compete with the monopoly.

So why do Ziff-Davis publications see a need to continually declare OS/2 dead? If anything, the very fact that they've had to keep doing so is evidence of OS/2's vitality. No one feels a need to declare yearly that John F. Kennedy is dead or that Barney Miller is no longer being filmed. How many of these near-death experiences has OS/2 had to date? I'm not even sure, but it's got to be near a dozen by now. This all smells decidedly like The Barkto Incident of 1994 and the underhanded schemes the Los Angeles Times uncovered in April of 1998--the buying off of public and media opinion, but that's a matter for another discussion.

The point is that one cannot trust such shady and historically proven unreliable sources for any real information. But for once it seems IBM might have given in somewhat. Sure OS/2 will continue to develop, with a new WorkSpace on Demand client and Warp Server in the next year, but the "fat" Warp client has been allowed to fall out of the public eye. As I mentioned earlier, new features and updates continue to be made for the Warp client through the Software Choice website, but Average Joe is still too accustomed to new features being provided in a shrink-wrap. This makes it decidedly difficult to persuade very many people to even try OS/2, even if they are seeking an alternative to Windows. There are also some rather serious (read as fundamental to the OS) features that probably will not ever be addressed by Software Choice--a final fix for the Single Input Queue which has frustrated many users of Netscape Navigator for OS/2, an SMP (Symmetric Multi-Processing) kernel to take advantage of today's dual Pentium, Pentium Pro, and Pentium II PCs, and so forth. IBM could make these available through Software Choice, of course, but I have some doubts.

Where does this leave us? Well, for now it leaves us in pretty much the same place we were last year but with a bit more native software (and an industry competitive office suite, no less). If your home or business needs were met by OS/2 Warp 4 last year, they'll probably be met this year and maybe slightly better thanks to the updates. For next year, however, if IBM price the new OS/2 Warp Server 5.0 right, you may have a very capable upgrade path. There's nothing to stop someone from using a server release on a workstation-type PC (aside from maybe the additional cost) and you'd gain many important benefits such as the improved 64-bit journaling file system, a new 32-bit I/O structure for higher performance and reliability, out-of-the-box year 2000 compliance and TCP/IP 4.1 for your networking needs, etc. If IBM do indeed make some or all of these changes available through Software Choice (TCP/IP 4.1 is already there and Warp 3 and 4 have been made year 2000 compliant through freely downloadable fixpacks) then it's entirely possible that the "fat" Warp client would be able to also make use of these, and so you'd technically have OS/2 Warp 5.0, just no hardcopy documentation or box that says so.

So all eyes are on IBM now to continue making these necessary additions to the Software Choice website. Failure to do so will validate Ziff-Davis' ages-old claims, with the counter having the possibility to elevate OS/2 into the "next level" as the first PC operating system to allow complete upgradability via the internet. It's already very close with the Remote Software Install and Feature Installer, but it has yet to produce a fundamental system upgrade, just a lot of new surface features and bug fixes. If IBM cared to play this card to the fullest, they could turn around years of bad press for OS/2 at this most crucial stage when much of the computing world is waking up to the Windows monopoly problem.

So how about it IBM? Up for a little game of Stratego?


Previous Page | Index | Next Page