Virtual OS/2 International Consumer Education

September 1998

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"Some OS/2 users step over the line!"

By: Seth McFarland <>

With the release of the first two betas of Netscape Communicator for OS/2, I've become aware of a side of the OS/2 community that I never knew existed (or refused to believe existed).

IBM finally comes through on its promise of bringing Communicator to OS/2 and to put the icing on the cake, two members of the IBM team working on the project (Mike Kaply and Jeff Kobal) actually begin participating in the OS/2 news groups giving us at least an inkling that there is someone at Big Blue actually listening to the lowly home users. But are these Communicator/2 programmers met with enthusiastic bug reports and "thank you"s? No. Instead, they are slapped with vicious posts about the buggy nature of the beta (yes, software defects in a BETA of all things), unwanted features added since 2.02, lack of full WPS integration, and threats of "dropping" Communicator/2 in favor of NS/2 2.02. It seems that for many OS/2 users (at least those vociferous in the news groups) nothing is good enough. Granted, NS/2 2.02 wasn't the best piece of software written, and Communicator for OS/2 is obviously not flawless, but then again what software is?

By no means am I trying to defend poorly written software. I realize that many times in the past OS/2 has been the victim of quick and dirty ports of software (Sim City 2000 comes to mind) which didn't deserve to have ever come out of beta. It's ports like these that OS/2 users don't buy and which confirm company's suspicions that OS/2 versions of their software won't sell (when in fact any software on any platform written as poorly as their OS/2 versions wouldn't sell). But back to Communicator for OS/2.

Have we forgotten what "beta" means? Beta software is expected to have bugs which is why IBM released the Comm/2 betas publicly: to find the glitches. Threats of not using the software and flames directed at the development team are no way to help make a solid final product.

Many of these complaints do not concern actual problems with the performance of Comm/2 but its lack of WPS integration. This is where I think OS/2 users are placing a little too much pressure on the development team. Sure, WPS integration is excellent and one of the many reasons we use OS/2 but with the many and varying ports of Communicator on several different platforms, integration with each and every OS to which the suite is ported is just not feasible. The attention that OS/2 got with NS/2 2.02 and is now getting with Comm/2 in terms of OS integration is well beyond the call of duty and should be appreciated by the OS/2 community. Several vicious attacks on this subject have been directed at Mike Kaply and Jeff Kobal. Disrespectful and personal attacks against the team bringing us a cutting-edge browser and suite is not the way to perfect the software.

Constructive criticism and defect reporting is what is necessary and expected of beta testers. Can't handle it? Too buggy for you? Don't test the software, wait for the production version. Useless complaining and badgering of the Comm/2 programmers not only takes time away from development, during which they are responding to posts dealing with issues that the porting team has no control over, but it also hurts our (read: the home user's) relationship with one of our only active links to IBM.

I am by no means asking the OS/2 community to be content with buggy, poorly written software. What I am asking for is a little respect for those working on our "side" who take time out of their busy day (even time at home) to keep us informed and who have been forced to post such comments as this one from Jeff Kobal:

My "agenda" is to provide the best OS/2 product I possibly can, as it has been in each of the various projects on which I've worked at IBM. I felt that responding to certain questions/concerns/suggestions/reports in this newsgroup would help me towards that end, and that certain responses I've received have been a hindrance. Instead of just ignoring it, I tried to politely explain the reasons behind certain decisions being made, and that has snowballed into what you see here now.

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