Virtual OS/2 International Consumer Education

October 1998

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By: Martin Alfredsson,,

You may not have noticed it but the OS/2 operating system is today used by its developer (IBM) as a vehicle to implement Network Computing with their largest customers. The client (Warp 4) is all but dead and there is no development planned to ever enhance it. Yes there are fixpacks, new addons (most noticeably Netscape Communicator 4) and some new hardware support released but these are aimed at the "Existing enterprise customer" that is, fortune 500 companies that have existing OS/2 installations and don't want to drop them.

Effectively that means that IBM does not give a shit about you and me !

There has been lots of moan and groan about this for years but there has been few things done about it. Shouting in a newsgroup or "threatening" to move to Windows 95 makes no difference. IBM could not be happier if you just reformatted your partition and installed Windows 98. Don't doubt that for a second !

I have spend more than ten years working with and learning OS/2 and I don't want to throw all that work away. But, either I have to do something or do Windows.

What to do ?

After lots of though I started 21warp - Its a plan to influence IBM to release a new OS/2 client "Warp5" and most importantly support the use of "Warp 5" among small business and home users.

I started out by adding a form to one of my webpages where you could "place an order". I initially asked for 10.000 copies (@$100) but I had no idea if this would succeed or not.

Well after less than three months I had reached 10.000.

Now I'm on for step two. To make this more real I want all OS/2 friendly retailers to add a page to their site where they will take orders. The buyer will have to commit to a real preorder and the order will be send to IBM. I don't know how many orders will be filed and I don't know how IBM will react but it will be harder for them not to react.

To make IBM jump right up and start delivering there has to be sales around 20 million dollars and the OS/2 community might not be that big any more...

But its in many ways IBM that pushes up the price. They would create a product in 15 languages and set up support centers all over the world. They would go through endless meetings and print expensive marketing literature. Finally they would produce a big box to be shipped all around the world. Most of us don't require all this and it could be done in a much more cost effective way...

But even if (when?) they get enough orders there are strong forces inside IBM that don't want us. IBM has positioned OS/2 as a "big customer" product and they don't want to be disturbed with small and "unimportant" customers. Therefore the real target of 21warp is not IBM but the computer press. We must put public pressure on IBM. With enough orders we will go out to the computer magazines and present our case. A "Grassroot against IBM" project will be interesting for them to write about and many companies will start to droll when they see what kind of money we represent.

As I write on my page, "We must hit IBM where it hurts most - on their public image."

Will it succeed ?

I don't know.
But I do know that if it fails I have done all I can. If it fails I can reformat my harddisk, install Windows NT 5 and know that OS/2 did not fail because of me. I did my best.
And if it succeeds I will know that I was part of a successful movement that shook one of the biggest companies in the world. (And I will not have to reformat my harddrive :).

But I cannot do this alone. Either we (the OS/2 community) cooperates on this and show a united face or we continue to moan and groan about IBM in the OS/2 newsgroups while the rest of the world moves on.

Will you do your best ?

Martin Alfredsson

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