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November 1999

Letters, Addendum, Errata

November 1, 1999 - The following is a Letter to the Editor, from Dave Dobson drdobson@otcc.com:

Dear Sir,
I didn't know who else to take this idea to, so here goes. I am SOHO user of Warp and am disturbed by the potential of not having OS/2 being supported. I am not a techie, yet have been successful in trial and error methods with the help of Users Groups have been able to make OS/2 very productive for me.

One of the things that astounds me is the apparent cavalier attitude of IBM with regards to the installed base of users. It is with this in mind that I write this note to you.

IBM stock is currently about 94. I just bought some shares at 93 3/8...My suggestion is, that all of us users should at least buy one share of stock, and then form a Warp Users Stock Owners Association where we could provide our proxie so that the Association would have some weight. I have heard numbers varying from 10 to 18 million Warp users, if this is the case then if just 50% of us just bought one or two shares a piece it would make a bloc of votes that might get their attention in a productive way.

Please let me emphasize it is not my intent or intention to create a "confrontational" group. My thinking is more on the lines of creating a meaningful shareholders voting block that might be able to influence officer selection and at the least be a viable reminder that there are dedicated Warp users out here. I think this would have a chance of effecting some changes as opposed to some of the critical comments in the users groups.

With proper promotion perhaps we will be able to find someone in the Warp User family with corporate law experience to put this together and perhaps find someone who could organize and represent the proxies?

What we need now is a vehicle to spread the word and to get this idea in motion...maybe even promoted at WarpStock....
Thanks for your time....Dave Dobson

Editor Reply: So can the OS/2 community come together on a project to pool IBM stock shares to help influence how IBM treats us? Any people have opinions on this proposal? Any people familiar with investment law care to tell us if this is feasible or not? What are the costs involved in this undertaking? If you have any comments/information please send them to editor@os2voice.org

October 31, 1999 - This is an update to last years VOICE coverage of US Tax programs that run under OS/2 - U.S. Tax Preparation Programs in Review - http://www.os2voice.org/VNL/past_issues/VNL0199H/vnewsf6.htm:
Income Tax Program Useable by OS/2
From Herb Anderson gsahca@newulmtel.net
This is a postscript to my earlier AM-Tax articles in the V.O.I.C.E. newsletters. http://www.os2voice.org/VNL/past_issues/VNL0199H/vnewsf7.htm

I contacted AM-Tax support about the future of their DOS based program. They stated that Microsoft is trying to 'kill' DOS. Most AM-Tax operational problems occur with printing. The problems usually lies in the way Windows (Win 3.x, 9X, etc.) "spools" output from DOS jobs or there's various incompatibility issues. The new inexpensive printers are designed to work only with true Windows applications. Most AM-Tax customers are price sensitive so they will not spend money for more expensive printers that can be used with other OS systems.

He stated that "a number of their customers like me are good with software. They know what they are doing and can easily use DOS programs to their satisfaction".

I asked if they could develop an OS/2 version. If not that, could they develop a Java or some other open source version? He replied that they are a small software company. It is probable that their situation and program design will take them in a direction that anything other than a Windows version is unlikely.

They plan to issue DOS and Windows 9X versions for tax year 2000. There are no definite plans for tax year 2001. That is the year, they probably will not make another DOS version.

Several people have been concerned about this in the Newsgroup: comp.os.os2.apps.

I hope that interested persons can continue to contact them and vote for an OS/2 useable program at http://www.amtax.com/ or http://816.714.7848.

Editor's note: Besides what Herb Anderson had to say about AMTax above, I also looked into the other three Tax packages reviewed previously in the newsletter and here is what I have found:

ExcelTax - http://www.os2voice.org/VNL/past_issues/VNL0299H/vnewsf6.htm
I am trying to contact them to verify that they will offer a personal version in DOS or Win3.1 this year. Their site says they are giving away the 1999 Professional version for free (phone support will be charged for, email free). They still list OS/2 as a supported platform on their web site - http://www.lamsontech.com/

"To celebrate the NEW Millenium, we are pleased to offer FULL VERSION of ExelTax absolutely FREE for the 1999 Tax Year. "There are no string attached", NO expirtation date, NO gray-out option. You get FULL VERSION ExelTax with electronic filing absolutely FREE. Email technical supports are still FREE. Phone supports are $10.00 for every 15 minutes. We have full version of ExelTax 1998 ready for download as working demo. Headstart ExelTax 1999 will be available for download October 28, 1999. FINAL Version are released December 28, 1999."

Kiplinger's TaxCut - http://www.os2voice.org/VNL/past_issues/VNL0199H/vnewsf6.htm#TaxCut
According to TaxCut's email support:
"Currently, the system requrements for TaxCut 99 have not been released. We, however, sspect that the system requirements will be nearly identical to the system requirements for TaxCut 98. Generally speaking, if you were able to run TaxCut 98 you should have no difficulty running TaxCut 99, with one exception: TaxCut 99 will be available on CD only. 3-1/2" diskettes will no longer be available. Therefore,in order to install TaxCut 99 your system must have an internal CD ROM drive, or you must have acess to an external CD-ROM drive. "

TurboTax deluxe - http://www.os2voice.org/VNL/past_issues/VNL0199H/vnewsf8.htm
Site still lists support for Win 3.1. Their site is atrocious and unhelpful in the extreme. I could find no email option to ask a simple question of their tech support. I wasn't about to call their pay for phone support number just to get a non-response from a typical windoze everywhere company. If anyone can get a reasonable response out of Intuit on this, please let me know.

October 24, 1999 - The following letter from David Kmetz, is in regard to my October editorial - Through the Looking Glass Yet Again! - http://www.os2voice.org/VNL/past_issues/VNL1099H/vnewsf1.htm:

Mr. Dodel: I just finished reading your article and felt a need to comment. My best friend and I attended Warpstock 99 and felt that the overlying message especially at the roundtable was " OS/2 is dead. Get over it!" I left totally confused as to what the future of personal computing is with IBM or even if there is one. Would I have to shell out $1600 to purchase Warp Server? Who to ask?

Here's some more mud for the waters. I decided to call IBM sales. The rep, who will remain anonymous, first clarified that they were, in fact, still selling OS/2 Warp v.4, and would continue to do so as long as their large customers requested it. When asking about the next step up in the Warp family, I was told "Well it's Warp server for E-Business, but we don't recommend you buy it unless there is a technical need for it. We recommend you go with a Windows product".

Have I dialed IBM? Isn't this like going into a Ford dealer and have them try to sell me a Chevy? What possible reason can IBM have for marketing their competitor's product? Can you say "collusion"?

After this conversation, I figured that I wouldn't bother reloading OS/2 to a replacement machine. Linux and BeOS here I come. Now I've come back to the fold and decided that, yes, I will continue to run OS/2. Yes, I will likely pay for Software Choice. All this in spite of the fact that Big Blue has apparently thrown out all or part of their Y2K compliance statements. (This too, is a little vague. A topic for another Voice editorial, perhaps.) Why? Because every time I fire up this Win-doze machine, it frustrates the (insert favorite expletive here) out of me. OS/2 is still my favorite operating system, I have a great deal of time invested in it, and I don't intend to give it up that easily.

David Kmetz

Editor's reply: Actually it's more like going into Sears, where they will sell you a GE, Frigidaire or their own Sears brand storage freezer. Whatever you wish to buy, and they will sell you a service contract on any brand they carry. The difference is that GE isn't threatening to charge Sears more because Sears sells it's own brand. So Sears doesn't bad mouth it's own products to force you to buy something else. Sears is not afraid of GE, but looks on it as another product they can sell to make a buck.

I hear people say that IBM isn't the villain or that microsoft isn't really evil, but the facts as they have come out in the US DOJ - microsoft trial and elsewhere show that microsoft will use any tactic, legal or not to crush any competition. Well IBM allowed microsoft to gain this power that is now held over them. So now it is you and I who have to pay for IBM's past inability to get the message out about OS/2 and their current secret deals with microsoft.

Were you at the Warp Jeopardy session at Warpstock? If so you had the opportunity to see the IBM commercials/mini-films from past versions of OS/2. They were truely amazing. Why is it no one outside of a few people at some product roll-outs actually saw these? Where did IBM spend all those millions of marketing dollars? Buying CEO lunches? They should have marketed their product to the masses. They would have been successful, because as much as OS/2 has it's faults, even today it is better then the junk out of Redmond.

IBM could do the right thing and release OS/2 as open source. That would keep it alive and allow it to thrive. People are fleeing to Linux, not because it makes a great client, but because they can tolerate it enough so they have an alternative that they believe has a future. OS/2 is a far better/user friendly desktop alternative, yet IBM refuses to sell it and in fact engages in anti-marketing the product.

To everyone that asks them to promote OS/2, IBM says there is no market. Who are we then? I have lost patience with IBM. The time is now for the OS/2 user community to begin to take control of OS/2 from IBM. We can't do that overnight, but we can start with gradually replacing parts of the operating system. That would give the OS/2 user community control over it's own destiny. The time is now to start supporting VOICE and the Warpicity Project as well as the OS/2 support project - Warp Doctor.

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